Sunday, December 14, 2008

Doing Leonard Cohen

Last night I finally got off my but and did something I've been meaning to do for a while - I went to the theatre. It's kind of like going to the TSO or the Opera in that I always say I want to go but then just don't bother.

Now I'm kicking myself. You see, my only real exposure to plays come from seeing a big production with a big name at some big theatre. I saw Judd Hirsch as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman at the Royal Alex. I saw the guy who played John Boy Walton in 12 Angry Men at the Princess of Wales Theatre. I saw a Mamet play down on Broadway with Nathan Lane.

Last night I went to see Doing Leonard Cohen at the Young Centre down in the Distillery District. Not a traditional play, the first act is a series of interpretations of short Cohen poems. The second act distills and deconstructs Beautiful Losers, Cohen's second novel.

I went on a whim and was blown away. The only time I'd ever seen a play in such an intimate setting before was when I spent a few days enjoying the Winnipeg Fringe Festival while hitchhiking to Vancouver in the early 90's. I forgot what a magical experience it can be to watch people perform and not feel like you're a million miles away and entirely divorced from the action.

The play, itself, was a blast. They really played up a lot of the humour of Cohen's work, dividing the work between the actors and bringing the works to life in incredible ways. There was a sheer physicality to the production that I wouldn't have imagined to be possible with Cohen's work.

Just to prove it isn't just about the Stampede, Chad Vangaalen and a Zombie, the troupe performing the play, One Yellow Rabbit, is based in Calgary. One of their next productions will be an adaptation of Dave Bidini's hockey erotica, The Five Hole Stories. Apparently, they will be touring with the Rheostatics providing live music!

I think I'm going to have to check this theatre thing out more often.

1 comment:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I really did want to see Doing Leonard Cohen when OYR produced it, but it was only on for 3 nights and I couldn't make it there.

I am so glad to hear that you saw the Toronto production though and that it was all that. From now on, I will just live vicariously through you.