Country matters

Rating: NNNNNYou can take actor Tom Barnett out of the country, but you can't take the country out of Barnett..

Rating: NNNNN

You can take actor Tom Barnett out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of Barnett. At last weekend’s Winter Fling, Barnett gave a nuanced performance in James Harkness’s Homage as a disillusioned gay man who returns to his farmhouse home. As the angst-ridden and increasingly drunk Jim, Barnett anchored the fine workshop production. Barnett’s back to rural life next April in a revival of Michael Healey’s The Drawer Boy, part of the Royal Alex season. Good thing he’s so moo-ving in the part.Despite running only a dozen performances, bittergirl * which closed earlier this month * developed a cult following. The entertaining tale of three dumped women who get their acts together sold out nine shows and was invited to audition for the Aspen Comedy Festival’s Canadian showcase. Audiences were more female than male, and at one performance 15 women in evening gowns * engineering students at the U of T * opted to attend when their male counterparts went on a pub and strip-joint crawl. Their school paper later ran a photo of the prom-primed women onstage with the cast.

Think of the winter solstice (tonight, Thursday, December 21) as an ecumenical time of peace and celebration. That’s the theory behind Kensington Carnival’s Festival Of Lights, now 12 years old. A lantern-lit procession of drummers, oversized puppets, stilt-walkers and fire-breathers leads revellers through the Kensington Market area, with theatrical representations of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza and pagan solstice along the route. Shadowland, the Crankee Consort, Clay and Paper Theatre and De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre are some of the artists involved. The big news from artistic producers Gabriella Caruso and Andy Moro is a planned exchange with a similar festival in Haifa. That collaboration of Christian, Jewish and Arab artists is part of an Israel/Palestine peace initiative. The parade begins at 5:30 pm at St. Stephen-in-the-Fields Church (365 College). 593-0871.

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