Northern Daughter

Warning: This review may contain spoilers.

A person’s roots can define everything they are in ways they least expect. This play is a gorgeous one-person show where Donna Creighton illustrates that truth with evocative stories and songs about life in Northern Ontario.

For a one-person show, this is among the most immersive I have ever experienced, with Creighton providing a wealth of characters on a beautiful canvas of the mind. Using a semi-autobiographical approach, Creighton uses those creations to create a powerful story rife with joys and sorrows that pulls you into the northern bush, avoiding cliche while tapping into a deeper truth. Whether it’s the romanticism of canoeing with as much casual confidence and practicality as biking in the city, or dealing with the neighbours at their best or worse, Creighton and Fagan create a whole world of rustic beauties and shadows alike.

To that end, Creighton brings the story to life with masterful acting, whether it is the worldly wise and secretly sonorous Ms. Patterson, the central character’s weary father, or the foul drunken menace of Mr. McAllister. Creighton slips between the roles with masterful protean skill that only requires a change in stance and voice to create.

That thespian talent is matched only by her singing, which reminds me of the graceful wisdom of Joan Baez; it draws me into her world like an enthralling siren of the North, truly promising peace and clarity with each note. Her spot-on parodies of the old Hinterland Who’s Who spots says much for her fused musical and comedic talent even as our memories are invited back to those quiet classics of Canadian TV.

Finally, the set is graceful perfection that needs only a few white aspen trees, rocks, and an almost ethereal misty glow to provide ambiance to the land. The whole feel is of a world shrouded by childhood memories, good and bad, that the narrator is ready to grow out of, but still remember forever. The total effect is a one-woman show that will pull you into her memories and imagination more thoroughly than any VR tech will be able to do for years.

Life for most people in Canada has been described in jest as being arranged as like a kind of weather stripping for the US border. This show is a welcome look at the real country that is equally a part of us.

5 thoughts on “Northern Daughter”

  1. Bambalamb! says:

    I am so very proud of Donna getting to shar this Awesome story about who she really is Norhern Daughter Yep! I have encouraged her to tell this story Donna is the triple threat! Love that about her once she decides to do something well it’s done! Who else would tap a maple tree in the middle of town London! Yep! She my be our Norther Daughter and now the world needs to know of this Great Canadian Artist Bambalamb!

  2. Marc Zegans says:

    Fantastic review for a wonderful, heartfelt show that Donna has been crafting for years. I hope that Norther Daughter sells out houses in London and finds its way onto a long and successful tour.

  3. Greg Simpson says:

    So very proud that this affair of Donna’s heart has been mounted. Congratulations to her and Louise for pulling it off and I am certain it will grow exponentially from this beginning.

  4. Tina says:

    What a show! The play had me laughing then blinking back tears. The harsh climate of the setting is just one of many severe elements Josephine encounters.

    Donna Creighton plays five characters. She shifts deftly from one to the next, moment by moment. And she plays the main character, Josephine from a dual perspective. Josephine — the older, wiser, middle-aged narrator — raises the curtain on her own childhood innocence with a powerful vulnerability. Donna Creighton sings throughout the show. Josephine’s songs are a musical salve, just when she needs it. Just when we need it too.

    Somehow the audience walks out chuckling, hopeful, feeling many things, understanding resilience in a new way, wondering how we travelled so far in 60 short minutes.

    Northern Daughter reminded me that we all have the power and responsibility to make choices. As Mrs. Peterson says to young Josephine: “Some are pretty. Some are not. Either way you have a pile of shit to deal with. But you get to choose which pile!”

    This show is GREAT. See it if you can. Really.

  5. Phil Doolittle says:

    Saw the show opening night, after following it’s development for quite some time. It’s everything the reviewers above say and more. The story is intriguing. Who died? Both unanticipated humor and fear are masterfully delivered and move the audience. Donna’s songs gain a heretofore unexperienced depth of meaning when presented in the context of the whole play rather than appearing in a concert setting as we are more used to hear her. The natural (recorded) sounds synchronized with the text and actions may be the best I’ve ever heard in a small theater production. In a word, if you manage a theater or community arts program, BOOK THIS SHOW!

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