ALMOST THERE by Judith Robinson, directed by Tom Carson, with Jane Miller, Claire Crawford, Will Finlay and Walter Young. Presented by Brookstone Theatre at the Walmer Centre Theatre (1881/2 Lowther). Runs to May 11, Wednesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 3 pm. $16.50-$29.50, stu $10 Wednesday. 416-922-1238 ext 2401. Rating: NN Rating: NN
there's plenty of drama in the life of Canadian-born faith healer Aimee Semple McPherson, but Judith Robinson's Almost There captures little of it. Covering 30 years of her life in short scenes, it quickly becomes repetitious and does little to develop the story or the central figure's inner conflicts.Robinson starts strongly enough, with Aimee (Jane Miller) comparing herself to Joan of Arc in her ability to communicate with God. Miller conveys energy and passion throughout the piece, holding it together with her acting and her powerful singing.
Unfortunately, none of the characters is strongly written, though Claire Crawford brings a nice tartness to Aimee's controlling mother, a Salvation Army officer. The most intriguing scenes introduce -- though very late in the show, and sewn onto the work like an ill-fitting coat sleeve -- Walter Young as the atheistic Charlie Chaplin, who offers a contrast to Miller's religious Aimee. Though Chaplin is a disbeliever, he's still drawn to a woman he recognizes as more charismatic than any actor.
But ultimately it's Miller's show, and she wins us over in much the same way Aimee herself held thousands of listeners spellbound. Too bad the script -- sometimes poetic in a heavy-handed way -- gives so little insight into the woman and those drawn to her. firstname.lastname@example.org