June 23, 2018
All over the Gulf Islands, which snuggle between the Vancouver mainland and Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada, there are artistic groups of all disciplines that glitter like stunningly magical stars.
When I discovered Solstice Theatre, quietly mounting plays for extremely talented actors, I am sure my mouth dropped open.
Here is a piece about one of the plays they did:
Gulf Islands Driftwood – Penders Edition
Wednesday, April 1, 2000
Solstice show gets top marks
by Tanya Lester
It would be difficult for anyone, even an English literature professor, to argue against the premise that Ann-Marie MacDonald is among the finest of young Canadian writers.
Her novel, Fall on Your Knees, is a major work by an author who takes the risk of writing in multiple layers and pulls it off extremely well.
MacDonald’s highly acclaimed play, Goodnight Desdemona (Goodmorning Juliet), produced by Pender Solstice Theatre Society, opened last weekend at the community hall. It, too, has as many layers as can be peeled away from an onion.
This is the most well-written play I have seen since I last went to a William Shakespeare production. Coincidence? I think not.
Goodnight Desdemona (Goodmorning Juliet) is a huge post-modern spoof of Shakespeare’s work, but even more so MacDonald pokes a finger of fun, with a very sharp nail on the end of it, at the academics who obsessively spend long days and nights pulling apart major works of literature, among them the plays of The Bard.
To produce this play, with its emphasis on hacking up Romeo and Juliet and Othello, is risky business, too.
Solstice Theatre took it and, like its playwright, is pulling it off extremely well.
Front and centre in the success of the production stands Sheila Jordan, who plays the lead of Constance Ledbelly (Ledbelly, indeed, is Jordan who was in a car accident the Tuesday before opening night.)
Jordan’s acting stays perfectly balanced from the moment she walks on stage as the unbalanced Constance wearing a red toque with a quill pen and gets behind a crate-style desk stamped “Prop Queen’s Univ. Discard,” through her ludicrous time-travel scenes into Shakespeare’s world and back again as a transformed Ledbelly.
She is the brainy, virginal, mousy assistant to an unethical progessor, who regresses into the past “lives” of Shakespearean characters and tries to change the plots as laid donw by the Elizabethan playwright.
Constance discovers that what happens to Romeon and Juliet when they go on living is more than she ever imagined and quite beyond her comfort zone — just as messing around with Iago’s evil manipulation gets her into another tight corner.
Jordan’s acting smoothly flows through the bumps in her character’s development much as a real person might who goes through, say, Jungian therapy, which is one way of looking at the archetypes the MacDonald play struts out across the boards.
The other actors develop very nicely as well but, unlike Joran who stands steady at the production’s helm, they shine better in some places than others.
Tim Kempe is a true clod as Professor Claude Night. Joyce Davis blossoms as the deflowered Juliet. Colleen Shannon plays a great Soldier of Cyprus and a good Desdemona. Steve Larouche pulls off Romeo whether in tights or long dress. Kim Davis is a wickedly wonderful Iago.
The play is highly amusing in the first act and leads the audience into raucous laughter in its more bawdy second half.
(“Does no one in Verona sail straight?” asks Desdemona, summing up the character development in Act III.)
“Life is a hell of a lot more complicated than you think” is what Ledbelly learns and the audience sees acted out by the end of this play…
You do not want to miss it. It is one of the best plays I have seen since I arrived in the Gulf Islands two years ago.
To read more posts in this eclectic blog of genres and topics, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com and tealeaf56.wordpress.com
Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. The first two books listed here can be purchased from the author or from amazon. ca The third title is housed at the Legislative Library of Manitoba. All four books are in some library systems.
Tanya has worked, to date, for 21 years as a psychic counsellor who specializes in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channelling, mediumship and gypsy cards. She is also a reiki master and fulltime housesitter. For more information, go to Tanya’s web: teareading.wordpress.com and/or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google and Align. To book a reading text or call Tanya at 250-538-0086 or email: email@example.com