- February 25, 2013 - 13:58
Re: Gordon Jones "Not Quite a Review" in the full edition of the Mon Feb 25 Telegram: (Not sure why the title of this article didn’t appear in “Today in the full edition of The Telegram” link – I have seen some omissions in this section before & think that ity would serve the Telegram well to include the titles of all articles – as that would increase the number of people who buy the physical paper or buy it online. I look forward to theatre reviews and specifically buy the telegram on days I know they are included. Gordon Holmes: "The focus of my current animadversion is a new work about life in rural Newfoundland, written by Megan Coles, “Our Eliza.” It played before full houses in the Barbara Barrett Theatre this past weekend, produced by Poverty Cove Theatre, directed by one of our most influential directors, Lois Brown, and featuring very accomplished local actors Greg Malone, Renee Hackett, and Joel Thomas Hynes. Now, Poverty Cove Theatre is a company that has, to date, deliberately performed in non-theatrical sites (“found spaces”). Has this mandate perhaps been extended to embrace non-critical sites? Nevertheless, I acquired a ticket and attended opening night, although not for formal reviewing purposes. It may, however, be noted that this well-crafted, one-act play about family and community in rural Newfoundland, featuring cantankerous, widower father (Malone), dutiful daughter-housekeeper, Eliza (Hackett), and gentle sweetheart (Hynes), is deft and humorous in scripting and performance, up until its savagely denunciatory finale. All three actors securely inhabited well-differentiated versions of their characters at earlier and later ages, with Hackett luminous and eloquent in the titular role. You had to keep your wits and ears about you, though, to keep up with Malone’s machine-gun delivery of outport patois and to catch all of Hynes’s sotto voice delivery of the sentiments of the deferential suitor. All in all, I was sorry not to be reviewing it’. – excerpt from Gordon Jones (The rest of the column basically dealt with not being able to see it in dress rehearsal or and that the opening on Fri evening did not give him time to get a review done in time for the early press time required to make the Saturday Telegram – so his column appeared in the Monday paper – when that limited weekend run would have finished. COMMENTS: I am glad that Gordon Jones did submit a column and that the Telegram did publish it because I believe it is a good & important piece and I believe it will have a much longer run – throughout the province - & I understand that is the company’s plan – to which I say BRAVO. I also say it would be great to see performed outside the province – minimal set helps in that venture. I pretty well agree with Gordon Jones’ limited review . When I saw it on Sunday, it was announced that “Our Eliza” is playing again in a found space – at the Arts and Culture Library on Sat Mar 2 & Sun Mar 3 at 8:30 pm Tickets $ 30 from the Arts and Culture Centre Box Office & it’s a fab idea to get them early – as they don’t have a lot of seats available. The company (Poverty Cove Theatre Company) is very interested in touring the play to other locations in the province – and I truly hope they do and I think it is impt that many people get to see it. The play was wonderful - it brings me back to a time where multi generations of a family (including elderly relatives) lived together. Greg Malone played Loomis, Eliza's dad - from the time she was in school until she was a grandmother. He didn't miss a beat - even though at the beginning one might have thought so - he had hearing issues & a some condition that limited his mobility somewhat and he was self absorbed and portrayed the parent (hopefully in our distant past) who had the expectation that a child, usually a female, needed to leave school in order to support the family’s domestic help needs . (We know that boys often had to leave school to support their family as well - & like Eliza, some of these children were truly gifted in school work), Most of today’s youth may find this incredulous – but ask your grandparents – they know of this happening – especially with large families. Life has really changed so much. If you’ve never seen Greg play a role in person (esp a role of a Newfoundlander) – well worth seeing – yes – some of the same nuances as on Codco – but in a drama – although there are comedic touches – thanks to the author & company and actors. Renee Hackett is a gifted actor – she is the lead – always on stage and she plays the role flawlessly. You believe that this is her reality – the story of Eliza. Loomis is on stage with her 80% of the time and Hank Campbell, Eliza’s suitor and then husband (played by Joel Thomas Hynes) perhaps 20 %. Definitely worth seeing Joel Hynes – play a relatives sweetheart of a man. Each of the performances is worth the price of admission alone. But the star of the show is the script by Meg Coles – from Savage Cove, on the Great Northern Peninsula, which is close to St. Barbe –where you take the ferry to Labrador. This is really an act of cultural preservation of the highest form – it is making the lives of women and families from years gone by come alive again for those lucky enough to see this performance. Meg is a young woman – (& from the written program I see she is a graduate from MUN and National Theatre School in Montreal (I googled & I remembered an article on Meg incorporating her theatre school life in Montreal and her life on the Northern Peninsula). I have enjoyed Meg’s journalistic writing on rural issues and I think this play hits the spot in telling of women’s and families lives from many years ago. The program and interviews note that Meg was asking questions of her father especially and working on this story as a playright from when she was a girl – through theatre school and until now. I think it is brilliant how you feel the presence and spirit of the other family members (Hope I am getting the names right) – her sister, Sarah Fanning, her brother Henry George, the twins, her mom Mae, her Uncle in the hospital and others – while they are not characters in the play per se, they are characters in the life of the family – and we feel their effect on the family. For me, Greg Malone’s portrayal of Eliza’s dad Loomis and Eliza’s story are truly amazing. Like Gordon, I sometimes had difficulty with Greg’s diction and speed as an the older Loomis - but this is a minor point & I know that Greg can finesse this – would also make this more accessible to older people – who would be an excellent audience for the play. I could also see discussions after & I wish I was there for the audience feedback after the Sat show. . Also, I wouldn’t get caught up on what Gordon Jones portrays as “savagely denunciatory finale” – my opinion of that is that life happens – there is nothing violent or out of character with the play (except that Eliza speaks up and we understand even more deeply the impact of her life. This was one persons life experience – an experience most of us have heard of before - it may well have been different for another person. It is a reality of life. Kudos to the whole Poverty Cove Theatre Company team – what you’ve done is special and deeply needed. You have brought this important story of Newfoundland alive and I can’t thank you enough. I highly recommend this to audiences near and far – it is a gem.