Last October, Torontoist was at a rather boring mass book launch at Theatrebooks. Among the books being launched was York theatre professor Don Rubin’s Canadian Theatre History: Selected Readings. Rubin, in classic Trying-Too-Hard-To-Be-Cool Prof style, bounced up to the podium to say how happy he was to be included in an evening with so many Canadian playwrights, because Canadian playwrights were such great “shit-disturbers.”
His reading was immediately followed by Susan Coyne reading from her play Kingfisher Days.
For those of you who missed it, that was the punchline. Kingfisher Days, Coyne’s first play, was a memoir of her privileged childhood summers at a Lake of the Woods cottage and the kindly man down the road who helped her learn about the power of imagination and literature by writing letters to her pretending to be a fairy. Not exactly a turd-perturbing tale…
The butt of this joke, however, is Rubin, not Coyne. Ever gracious, Coyne – the co-founder of Soulpepper, actor Albert Schultz’s wife, rekindled blogger Andrew Coyne’s sister — acknowledged that all shit remains firmly in place in the course of her play. And, to be honest, it was terrible refreshing to hear a first-time playwright –- though Coyne had already sharpened her pen on Chekhov adaptations for Soulpepper –- talk of her craft in the humble terms of telling a story rather than sparking a revolution.
Alice’s Affair, Coyne’s second play, opens in previews at Tarragon Theatre tonight and promises to be another middle-aged, middle-brow cottage affair. Throwing it down Big Chill-style, the play reunites a group of friends “in a snowbound cottage after the funeral of a revered professor of creative writing… However capable they are, they find themselves longing for love, for meaningful work, for escape and for permission to be, in David Copperfield’s words, ‘The hero of one’s own life.'”
If you’re wondering how Claudia Schiffer’s ex-fiance fits into all this, Alice’s Affair may not be the play for you…
If you’re wondering whether the titular structure [Woman’s Name]’s [Noun] was a prerequisite for getting a show on at Tarragon this season, though, you might be Torontoist… (Bea’s Niece, Helen’s Necklace, Alice’s Affair… What’s up with that?)