TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE by Cliff Cardinal (VideoCabaret, 10 Busy). Runs to May 19. $20-$40. videocab.com. See listing. Rating:.
The first scene in Too Good To Be True has a mother plucking away at a For Sale sign and setting up residence in a new home, if only for a little while. Her actions kick off Cliff Cardinals directorial debut about a fugitive familys last supper, while also laying down an ingenious welcome-home mat for VideoCabaret.
The theatre company, founded in 1976 by Deanne Taylor and Michael Hollingsworth, has opened the doors to a Leslieville venue it can finally call its own. Premiering their new black box space with a play about a transient family, who consider a new home too good to be true, is a lovely sentiment.
The contemporary play is a break from VideoCabarets period fare like The Great War and Confederation. Though this story about an Indigenous family trying to find their place comes weighted with history.
Cheri Maracle stars as the mother, Maria, on the run from a crime that is slowly revealed, but not before teasing us with macabre guesses. Shes preparing her teen offspring for life without her. Her older child, Lisa (Patti Shaughnessy), is pregnant. Her younger, Jude (Ryan Cunningham), is not-so-tenderly reconciled with his familys reality.
The play deals with heavy subject matter, like prostitution and sexual assault, which are not so easily handled in a comedy that leans on outrageous and exaggerated shtick. The laughs may not always work, but you have to appreciate material that doesnt trap its characters in victimhood. Instead the play searches for inspiring ways to move forward from trauma.
The actors make the most of the material, particularly Maracle. She displays the ability to flip from Married With Children-style gags to a genuinely heart-wrenching moment, where a single tear streaks down her face, and then back again, all within a minute. Thats its own miracle.