Torontoist has long felt that Canadian history, our most dreaded subject all through secondary school, is always better left to the theatre artists. The talented folks over at Video Cabaret persist in proving us right with the latest installment of Michael Hollingworth’s 15-play cycle The History of the Village of the Small Huts. The Canadian Pacific Scandal is play number six in a series that chronicles the history of our nation from New France to The Life and Times of Brian Mulroney.
This latest offering is sharply performed by a talented cast in a strikingly stylized manner. As performed by Greg Campbell, John A. Macdonald is ghoulishly clownish, rum bottle glued permanently to his hand. Paul Braunstein’s Wilfred Laurier is idealistic and foppish, forever tormented by his shrilly vapid wife (Kerry Ann Doherty).
Design-wise, the show is simple yet eye-popping – the characters are dressed and made-up to resemble Punch & Judy puppets, and appear sharply against the pitch black of the backdrop in a series of tableaux.
The subject matter might sound a bit arid, but don’t let that fool you – Hollingworth is a very funny writer with a rare talent for squeezing juice from the driest of subjects – we definitely would have paid closer attention if our eighth grade history teacher had been spinning us tales about Sir John A.’s love of the bottle, Louis Riel’s batshit insanity, and Wilfred Laurier’s salacious affair and resulting lovechild!
Canadian Pacific Scandal runs until April 23rd at Cameron House, 408 Queen St. W. For tickets, call 416-703-1725.