Monday, November 28, 2011

History Repeats Itself - The Life and Times of Mackenzie King - Theatre Review

The Life & Times Of Mackenzie King: The History Of The Village Of The Small Huts, 1918-39 - VideoCabaret at Cameron House - Toronto, ON - **** (out of 5 stars)
Written by Michael Hollingsworth
Runs until Dec. 18th 2011.
The War of 1812 will run at Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 2012.

If history class could have only been this fun and snappy, I may have actually paid attention and taken more than just the Grade 9 requirement. If only I knew about Michael Hollingsworth's epic cycle of Canadian history back then, Canadian history could have been entertaining. Last year I finally caught my first VideoCabaret, The Great War and now the cycle continues onto the next portion of history, during the reign of Mackenzie King. Well, the play doesn't solely focus on Mackenzie King's tenure, fall, and rise again in Canadian Parliament, but follows his rivals, the unions and the other political shenanigans that happened at the time. The same time Mackenzie King spoke with his dead mother for advice. Yes, it's quite the hodgepodge and VideoCabaret mixes it all up in hilarious and biting fashion.

If you haven't seen a VideoCabaret show, then the show is worth it alone just to see the way Hollingsworth presents his satirical history plays. Done Black Box style, the theatre is pitch black and lights only show actors in white makeup and in over-exaggerated costumes and props appear to float in the theatre frame, giving it a flickering old film look. Lights go on and off with complete scene changes in what must make for some quick madness backstage, but gives the audiences quick scenes that speed thru Hollingsworth's bullet history points, all with a comic edge ticking at its pacing.

For The Life and Times of Mackenzie King, the issues at hand make it a bit more serious than last years The Great War (I know, right?) with less satirical zingers, perhaps because many of the social injustice issues being made fun of via Mackenzie King could be so relatable to now. With the Occupy movements, and unions being squashed by our current federal government, the realization that history is really repeating itself turns out to be less funny and more of a grave concern. It gives VideoCab's current show more poignancy than just a typical satyrical history play.

Many of the same actors are back from last year, including the hilarious Mac Fyfe, Paul Braustein, Greg Campbell and Richard Alan Campbell, but is joined this year by delightful newcomers Linda Prystawska and Jacob James. Jacob James has some particularly hilarious moments and it's hard to believe this is his first year as part of VideoCabaret.

Photos by Michael Cooper
Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com

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