My heart was broken by an Irishman at the end of one blissful summer. His name was **** Fitzpatrick. He was so ridiculously Irish that my friends asked me if he was real or a caricature. He had a shiny bald scalp, wore a something he called a “paddy cap”, wore thick-rimmed-coke bottle glasses, lived in a dilapidated Irish rooming house in Chinatown while earning minimum wage on a two-year work visa which was about to run out in a couple of months (which made the situation even more dramatic and painful), drank like a fish, referred to going to the bathroom as “I gotta go to the jacks”, and man I thought every one of these things was endearing as hell. I thought he was the hottest thing on the face of the planet and the future father of my children. I was ready to convert to Catholicism. If anything, the awful backdrop of his life only made his cute Irishness sparkle brighter. He ended up being a horrible arsehole who eventually left town and to be honest, I have never truly gotten over the accent. Because let’s face it. Nothing about this man would have been attractive if he hadn’t had that ridiculously thick Irish accent (and blue eyes that looked like the pools angels in Heaven bathe in). If he had suddenly broken character after a month of dating and admitted he was from Sudbury I would have seen everything in a completely different light and gone home and blocked him on Facebook.
So anyways. I have been avoiding the Irish Players like the plague for years. The last thing I need is to burst out crying in public during a show, at the Alumnae Theatre of all places, while probably sitting alone because I am single and also starting to have trouble dragging friends to the theatre with me on a weekly basis. It turns out most people I know find theatre “boring”. But Game of Thrones is apparently brilliant??
So alone I came last Sunday to a matinee performance of Conor McPherson’s The Veil directed by Maureen Lukie. I was actually very excited because I love creepy old ghost stories so much, I actually used to helm a monthly “scary silent movie club”. That club contained two members and lasted two months. We watched Faust and Nosferatu.
Which is why I lovvvved The Veil! It was right up any retro-horror movie lover’s alley. So much in fact, that the “big scary special effect” near the climax of the play was a wonderful, interactive, high tech, combination of Nosferatu meets The Grudge.
Also, the set, the ambience in the theatre and the acting made this live-action haunted house thriller even more believable.
Kelly-Marie Murtha (Madeleine) was especially haunting as the stoic widowed (via suicide) early 19th century, rural Irish mother sending her seemingly clairvoyant daughter Hannah (Lauren McGinty) off to England to partake in an arranged marriage. It seemed to me, that Madeleine kept a stone cold poker face, pretending to care only about marrying Hannah off to a wealthy family when really she just wanted to get her daughter as far away as possible from the ghosts that haunted the stately yet ancient and decaying, isolated farmhouse.
The only little critique I have is, when the dashingly handsome young Kyle McLachlan lookalike, Ted Powers (Audelle) turned to his back to the audience to face the gruesome apparition during the big reveal, his body blocked out the entire frame and I found myself straining to crane my neck back and forth to try and get a glimpse of the terrifying special effect. After the first half-second, I was unable to see the vision again. Perhaps this is intentional to add to the suspense?? We also miss out on what I’m sure would have been an incredible facial reaction from Powers.
Also very interesting was – after I left the auditorium and joined the long ladies’ room lineup, I overheard Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager for Theatre Ontario announce that prominent Toronto theatre critic, Lynn Slotkin (CUT 89.5FM, Friday Mornings @ 9 am) currently an “adjudicator in training” would be giving what turned out to a be real-time, live review of the play we had just seen – right now and then, in front of the audience, off the top of her head, without the help of a teleprompter unlike some very famous talking heads I can think of (80’s era-Siskel & Ebert, Roeper, Billy Bush, Trump). I was so excited to hear what she thought of the play and mentally compare notes that I raced back in via the side door and surreptitiously took a seat in the third row. The one thing she brought up that I never would have noticed is the candlesticks around the grand living room remained unlit which showed the frugality of the era.
This is my first visit to the Alumnae Theatre since April 2017’s The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl. I purchased a cup of coffee for $1 at intermission and I must say – it has really improved. I was left wanting more so I just wish the cups were slightly larger. The complimentary finger sandwiches were greatly appreciated and delicious, especially the salmon pinwheels.
Oct 5, 6, 7, @ 8pm.
70, Berkeley Street
Tickets – $25 – http://torontoirishplayers.com/wp/tickets/