Luba Goy: the Farce is with her.
LUBA, SIMPLY LUBA by Diane Flacks in collaboration with Luba Goy and Andrey Tarasiuk (Pleiades). At Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs (26 Berkeley). To May 26. $33. 416-368-3110. See Listing. Rating: NNN
Luba Goy says whenever she goes out in public, strangers approach her warmly and invite her places. She conveys this same easygoing rapport with the audience for Luba, Simply Luba.
Goy traces her storied family history from Ukraine to a forced labour camp in Germany, to Belgian coal mines post-WW2, crossing the ocean and finally settling in Ottawa. Accompanying her behind a curtain, Victor Mishalow plays rich music on the bandura, Ukraine's national instrument.
Fans of her comedy, particularly from her 35 years with the Royal Canadian Air Farce, get rewarded with Goy's familiar imitations of politicians (nine prime ministers served during the Air Farce run) and Canadian icons like Margaret Atwood. These revisited impressions entertain, but work best when integrated into the story, like her recollection of struggling not to impersonate the Queen when actually meeting her one day at the CBC.
With writer Diane Flacks's help, funny recollections become in-depth narratives. Together they mine humour from stories about Goy losing her virginity and her first foray into comedy. However, the script could still use editing; it sometimes feels disjointed, and the narrative too frequently skips back and forth in time.
Douglas Paraschuk keeps the set simple. A wooden chest doubles as a seat and storage unit and contains props used to strong effect to illustrate the Goy family's impoverishment in the early days.
She may have a tendency to milk some punchlines, but Goy's superb timing and buoyant physicality are evident in this honest and revealing show.