The Big “What Now?” bursts with life and laughs

THE BIG WHAT NOW? by Sandra Shamas (Everything But the Kitchens Inc). At the Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay.

THE BIG WHAT NOW? by Sandra Shamas (Everything But the Kitchens Inc). At the Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West). Runs to February 19. $45-$55. 416-973-4000. See listing. Rating: NNNN

Theres no one else like Sandra Shamas, whos built a career out of chronicling her life for close to three decades now and, with her latest show, The Big What Now?, shows no signs of stopping.

Her powers of observation and expression are as strong, and funny, as ever, and her audience which has grown up with her and treats each new instalment like a catch-up with a friend is fiercely devoted.

Approaching 60 while unmarried, childless (and hence, grandchildless, unlike many around her) and wondering why shed ever retire, Shamas begins pondering why aging women are invisible. She doesnt see her life reflected anywhere else, even though, as she proves, its rich and full.

Shamas recounts a number of recent stories, such as digging up her farms septic tank after her toilet backed up and her tub filled with excrement, braving the 2013 ice storm alone, and, most affectingly, witnessing an ageist putdown in a womens change room.

As always, she approaches things from a unique angle, making us question things like When does lamb become mutton? and why a long marriage is necessarily considered a successful one.

Even a story about looking for love, or sex, through dating apps and websites feels fresh because it’s seen through her eyes.

If the stories have a common denominator, its about cutting through societal bullshit and learning to respect, love and listen to oneself. Theres no timetable for life lessons. Do things at your own pace.

Chatty, genial and alive to the energy in the crowd latecomers, beware, you might have to speak up when you take your seat Shamas is in a class all her own. Even if the shows conclusion feels abrupt, the poignant, inspiring final image will stay with you long after the laughs die away.

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