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.