We often accuse Americans of having a warped sense of history, a legendary mythos surrounding their Founding Fathers. And while this is quite true, Canadians are equally as guilty of this. There’s a tendency, it must be said, when writer’s tackle Canadiana to delve into stereotype or a saccharine celebration of us quirky Canucks.
Based on its minimalist premise, “Set in the 1930s in rural Newfoundland”, Whizgiggling Productions’ latest rendition of Her Mark is at serious risk of delving into the kind of mind-numbing hokum I was exposed to from Grade 5 onwards. However, I’m pleased to write that it exceeded expectations, and then some.
It begins, fittingly, with a eulogy–a contemplative tribute to the people who attempted (and still attempt) to build a life and find salvation on Canada’s most easterly coast. It’s a harsh and unforgiving opening that echoes throughout the production, but it drips with a raw honesty that’s so rare in these historical productions.
The credit belongs in large part to playwright and poet Michael Crummey who’s lyrical dialogue and superb word choice gives Her Mark all the intrigue and beauty of the province in which it is set. The players (and live fiddle accompaniment) are expertly cast; despite none of them really capturing the distinctive accent, their cadence and superb patter more than make up for it.
What’s more, the Orange Hall makes for what is indeed an intimate evening–its close quarters and seating for about 20 only add to the experience. Listening to these heart-wrenching tales of sadness, woe, and hope are all the more poignant when delivered just three feet away.
Her Mark is a rare piece of theatre that feels authentically Canadian–without all the drivel.
Until Sat., Feb. 10 (7:30 pm)
Orange Hall Strathcona