There is trouble brewing in Canada. Thankfully, Mapleman: Canuck Crusader by the Woodlands Drama Company is here, playing at the Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of the 2015 Toronto SummerWorks Festival and in conjunction with the Sears Ontario Drama Festival.
Mapleman: Canuck Crusader was the collaborative work of students from grades 7-12 at the Woodlands School in Mississauga. It tackles the ever changing question of the Canadian identity through songs, humour, and stereotypes.
I have to say that overall it is a neat piece of work from young people that speaks strongly to current events, concerns, and arguments happening around the country.
Mapleman (Benjamin Gormley) is so Canadian his powers include drinking Tim Hortons in a “Double-double chug.” When he is kidnapped by his arch-nemesis Broker (Martin French), the country becomes disillusioned with no one to represent the Canadian identity. Luckily, Mapleman’s girlfriend Winnie (Marie Kowdrysh) is on the case.
What makes this show so charming is that it completely embraces every ridiculous piece of our national pride with some clear political commentary thrown in. There are Tim Horton jokes, Maple Leaf jokes, even one pointed take on Bill C-24.
At its best, Mapleman loves the varied struggles of Canadians from coast to coast. One example were the unappreciated music group Canadian Baritones (Nam Nguyen, Patrick Mossman, Garrett Zhang, and Max Gu) who sell-out to the United States in order to get paid. There was even a Québecois supervillain/superhero Fleur-de-Lys (Julie Phan) who fights for Québec sovereignty and occasionally, Canada as a whole.
Despite the qualities Mapleman argues for, there are some uncomfortable elements that hang over the show.
While I understand this is a show created by students, I can’t avoid commenting on regressive gender roles. Winnie, for instance, is hyper-competent until the end when it’s only Mapleman who can save the day with his powers. Worse still is the problematic and uncomfortable objectification of another female character.
This play has had previous readings, including one at the Tarragon Theatre’s Young Playwrights’ Unit and I have to wonder if anyone thought to speak out about the character. As an audience member, I found it incredibly bizarre and annoying to see such a representation in the otherwise friendly, good-natured, and tongue-in-cheek production. I feel like someone failed in their job to help young artists develop an inclusive play.
Mapleman: Canuck Crusader represents a socially and culturally engaged group who are invested in Canada’s future. I just wish that other problematic social and cultural elements of our country hadn’t made the cut.
- Mapleman: Canuck Crusader plays until August 15th at the Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst)
Saturday August 8th 4:00 PM
Tuesday August 11th 4:15 PM
Saturday August 15th 4:45 PM
- Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Live Art Series tickets are free – $20. Tickets are available online at summerworks.ca, by phone at 888-328-8384, Monday – Friday 8:30am-5pm, in person at the SummerWorks Info Booth – located at SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 4-16 from 10am-7pm (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
- Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows
Photo of Maplehead: Canuck Crusader courtesy Woodlands Drama Company