Canuck Capers

THE MACKENZIE/PAPINEAU REBELLION by Michael Hollingsworth, April 12 to June 2 at the Cameron House. See openings, this page. Rating:.


THE MACKENZIE/PAPINEAU REBELLION by Michael Hollingsworth, April 12 to June 2 at the Cameron House. See openings, this page.

Rating: NNNNN


Michael Hollingsworth knows where to find true comedic mayhem — in our nation’s past. The remount of his monumental, award-winning History Of The Village Of The Small Huts, a cartoony, satiric look at Canuck history, reaches the insurrection stage with The Mackenzie/Papineau Rebellion. During the simultaneous 1837 uprisings in Upper and Lower Canada, Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, resisted the control of the power-holding Family Compact (Mayor Mel could learn some tactics here) and Louis Joseph Papineau sought to give well-off francophones the power held by wealthy anglophones. Both efforts were squashed.

Actor Bruce Vavrina returns to play eight roles, including the villains, in Rebellion (he’s done four other segments of the History and was also a member of the wonderful Autumn Angel collective in the 80s), along with regular Janet Burke and five performers new to the series’ unique performing style.

“It’s not like anything else I’ve done,” Vavrina reflects, “because it’s so precise, so technical, so crazy. We work in a tiny black box, tightly lit, have to find our precise places in the dark and then act big but in close-up all the time. Every head and eye movement is significant — nothing’s lost, nothing’s background.”

And when you add Shadowland’s oversize, outrageous costumes and props, the quick changes backstage required by the 100 short scenes must be mayhem.

“Yeah, it’s an engine that starts out of the station and doesn’t stop until it’s over,” admits Vavrina. “Unlike a naturalistic play, there’s no time to squeeze yourself into the fabric of the show. But that’s part of the wacky comedy that makes it work so well.”

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