32 1/2 Sisters Equity Co-op
Women at Plays (3)

Dates and Venue 3 – 12 January 2008 @ 8pm | Jericho Arts Centre

Event Co-ordinator Marianne Sawchuk Technical Direction and
Mimi Abrahams Sound Darren W. Hales Stage Manager Laura Moore

Reviewer Jane Penistan

The six plays in this “cornucopia of plays” are all about women, written by women, and performed by women. Last year's similar event comprised at least a dozen short plays, while this year’s offering is one of a smaller selection of much more interesting plays. Inevitably, such a programme holds a variable standard of presentations in a variety of subjects. And again, some are more successful than others and some will appeal to a variety of audience tastes.

The opening play, Eulogy by Ashley Rose concerns sibling rivalry experienced by two sisters, reminiscing at their fathers’ funeral. This perceptive compassionate script was well performed by Rukiya Bernard and Marci T. House.

Twenty-nothing by Tosha Doiron, I found uninteresting, but thought it would appeal to the twenty-year olds, only to have it soundly condemned by a twenty-three-year-old friend. She thought the work insulting to the intelligence of the present generation of twenty somethings, and despite the energy of the performance, disliked it, and was offended by this particular work. So much for my old age effort to understand the young!

In a different category, The Apartment by Trina Davies is a heart-rending presentation of a displaced woman in Bosnia returning to her apartment after political imprisonment. To her dismay and horror she finds her erstwhile home and family possessions occupied and owned by a stranger. Adamant in her ownership, Ankica (Lisa Marie Forbes) heartlessly defeats the bewildered Nusreta (Stephanie Kirkland), adding cruel destruction in her final dismissal of her victim. This beautifully understated and telling presentation was directed by Joan Bryans.

Following the spare, dramatic Apartment, Surprise by Shauna Johannesen seemed a confusing, noisy, and pointless exercise in modern entertaining at home. Played with considerable energy and movement, and with some humour in the script and the performance, it nevertheless failed to engage this member of the audience.

Marianne Sawchuk gives a sensitive, sympathetic performance in Sherry Yano’s Not a Conspiracy. She is the compassionate catalyst bringing an estranged mother and a dying daughter together. All three actors, Marianne Sawchuk, Judith Berlin, and Tanya Champoux act well together, bringing believability and insight to this introspective play of family prejudice, misunderstanding, and compassion.

Barbara Ellison’s A.B.C., directed by Ruth-Kelly Mercer, presents us with a conflict of interest for two women, Sheila Fraser, (Gwynyth Walsh) and Loretta Price (Beverley Elliott). Can money prevail over integrity? Who really has the child’s interest at heart? The two nicely contrasted personalities argue about the ultimate outcome for the child. Both women present strong personalities with differing ethics and attitude. This intelligent script well performed and directed brought an end to an evening of diverse subjects.

© 2008 Jane Penistan