the red river rebellion written and directed by Michael Hollingsworth, with Richard Campbell, Richard Clarkin, Stephen McCarthy, Linda Prystawska, Anand Rajaram, Dylan Roberts and Sean Sullivan. Presented by VideoCabaret at the Cameron House (408 Queen West). Runs to March 20, Tuesday-Saturday 7:30 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $15-$30. 416-703-1725. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
With his history of the village of The Small Huts series, Michael Hollingsworth has rewritten Canadian history as we know it.
The Red River Rebellion , the fifth instalment of this remounted series, puts excitement, intrigue and humour back into stories that often lose their drama in the retelling. This satirical dramatization won't disappoint viewers eager to see what happens after Confederation.
In the Cameron House's tiny black-box theatre, historical character after historical character dramatically come out of the darkness and into Andy Moro and Jim Plaxton 's intricate light set-up.
Determined, greedy and sometimes fearful, they lure us in with their unrelenting and conflicting visions for Canada. Characters include Prime Minister John A. Macdonald ( Richard Clarkin ), seeing Canada through the blur of his drunken eyes as a domain to be conquered; Louis Riel ( Dylan Roberts ) fighting like a martyr of the Metis to lead Manitoba to self-government; Wilfred Laurier ( Stephen McCarthy ) unwaveringly believing in the democratic way; and 22 others adding to the conflicts in politics and the Church.
The multiple roles, played by seven actors in whiteface and puppet-like style, produce a hilarious, non-stop 77-minute whirlwind show. Unfortunately, in the middle of the whirlwind, it can be difficult to keep up with a growing roster of characters.
But perfectly timed vignettes and performers miraculously switching into elaborate, eye-popping costumes should help the audience forgive this small shortcoming.
Even when just standing in tableau, this cast both brings to life and endears us to a history we often forget to think about, and frequently forget to laugh at.