Saturday, March 20, 2010

Truth and Powerful Storytelling at PTE

My sis Lisa and I attended a sold-out performance of WHERE THE BLOOD MIXES last night. The audience gave the company a well-deserved standing ovation. Tonight is the show's last performance in Winnipeg before the Governor General's Award winning play moves on to the National Art Centre Studio and The Factory Theatre in Toronto. I can't recommend this production highly enough.

Beautifully written, powerfully acted, well directed and featuring an effective understated set design and a fabulous live onstage score provided by Jason Burnstick, this is one of the best shows I've seen this season.

Kevin Loring spent four years honing his script about a trio of First Nations friends living with the aftermath of a childhood spent in residential school. It shows. Not one false note is hit in 90 riveting minutes of theatre.

A great cast of four: Ben Cardinal and Margo Kane as the alcoholic Mooch and his long suffering enabler girlfriend June, the great Billy Merasty who made the difficult, angry Floyd sympathetic and Kim Harvey as Floyd's daughter Christine are all terrific.

Perhaps Loring's greatest achievement is his truthful mix of humour with the pain and anger of these people. It made me laugh and cry - often at the same time. These guys were sure fun to go fishing with.

When Christine comes home to reconnect with her birth father, the ghost of a shared tragedy rises to the surface of June Mooch and Floyd's collective memory and threatens to drown them all. In the end, hope glimmers for the people like spring salmon in the river: the hope of a better future for their children.

It was especially poignant seeing the show in Winnipeg, where the Truth and Reconciliation Committee for residential school survivors opens its offices on April 8th. Justice Murray Sinclair blessed the audience on opening night. I'm sad my Metis dad didn't live to see this play with us last night. I sure heard his voice on that fishing dock yesterday.

Let's hope this chance for everyone to share their stories will finally heal this history and set us free from its awful legacy.