Last night is easily my favourite night spent at UNO Fest so far. I started off the night at the intimate Intrepid Theatre Club that had been transformed into a 13 year old girl’s bedroom circa 1963. While I was a bit wary of the play not only because it seemed to be just another story about another complicated family but also because channeling a 13 year old girl for an hour, to me, would be difficult.
Shangri-La was the most charming piece of theatre I have seen in a long time. Jeanne, played impeccably by Judy Wensel, is caught in the struggles of a complicated family and the societal restraints of the time. Her solace throughout the play is her portable record player and the pop songs of her time. This piece is isn’t really about music but about this charming girl and the unspoken but known contracts of a family. Wensel executed the character with a certain naivity and took her time with every sentence to bring Jeanne to life and give her such relatable depth that by the end, you almost want to stand on your seat and cheer for her progress and the growth of her thick skin.
I followed up Shangri-La assuming that no play could top that story only to find myself at the Metro Studio with O.C. Dean. As the title implies, the main character is Dean and he suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. What I liked best about this play is it gave such a real representation of what it is like to struggle with such a mental disorder and shed an enlightening sympathy into the life of someone who struggles on a daily basis. While walking us through the day to day trials, Daniel Maslany also tells us a story that fleshes out, I think, the real importance of why we need to take mental illness seriously. In the end, we see how strong a family can and needs to be in such a situation and how beautiful humanity is, even with daily obsessions and compulsions we may not fully understand.
To miss these plays is to miss out on two charming experiences that don’t happen in theate often. O.C. Dean has one final show tonight at 9pm at the Metro Studio and Shangri-La also returns tonight at the Intrepid Theatre Club also at 9pm (the final show is tomorrow at 6pm). Check out the Intrepid Theatre website for full ticket and venue information.
Tonight, I am very excited to check out Cancer Can’t Dance Like This at the Metro! Stay tuned for more!
Until next time,