By Adelina Fabiano
Waiting for the Parade comes marching onto the Toronto Theatre scene
I‘ve anticipated Soulpepper‘s Waiting for the Parade by John Murrell for the longest time. Having performed parts of this play myself back in high school, I felt a close kinship to the piece and couldn’t wait to see what Soulpepper Theatre Company was going to do with it. Waiting for the Parade was definitely worth the wait!
Brilliantly directed, coupled with a stellar cast of five exceptional female actors, this powerful production was truly phenomenal. All the characters, all so diverse from each other, was brought to life in this drama. The play portrays the untold stories of the women who waited anxiously at home for their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons to return from World War II.
The actors’ emotional depth, vocal strength, ability and energy made for never a dull moment in this production. I could listen to these women talk for hours…which is exactly what they had to do in order to combat the loneliness and despair they felt during such a troubling time. They acted with every inch of their being, and I feel grateful to have been part of such honest and truthful performances.
Army suits hung across the top of the stage with empty wooden closets underneath. The actors filled the space with their physicality. With only five actors and few props, sparse furniture (five wooden chairs, a table and a piano), spectators’ eyes easily danced around to each corner of the stage, which was lit by dramatic whites and blues. Light shone on each woman as she took her moment to tell her story, her fears, her secrets, her hopes…
Particularly notable was the sound design. The music and sound effects combined to great effect. The play opened and closed with a delightfully choreographed 1940s dance sequence, and characters accompanied the piano with sombre melodies in the distance. The sudden sound effects were striking and intensified each character’s sadness.
My guest for the evening said it was the best show he had seen all year. He felt connected to every character and felt that the production balanced deeply moving emotion with unexpected moments of comedy. Despite the extraordinary circumstances each woman faced, they each proved their resilience in the face of adversity.
Most importantly, I felt that I left the theatre having more compassion and understanding for the pain and suffering my grandmother and great aunts endured when they lost their brothers and father in the war. I am also left with admiration for the strength they had to find each day as they waited, much to no avail, for their loved ones to return.
-Waiting for the Parade is playing at Young Center for the Performing Arts from May 1st until May 29, 2010.
-Performances are at 8:00 pm on Mondays through Saturday with matinees on Saturday at 2:00 pm.
-Ticket prices range from $37 – $70. Student tickets can be purchased for $29. Regular rush tickets for $20 are available in person at the Young Centre box office 15 minutes prior to curtain.Youth Rush (21 and under) can be purchased for $5.
-Tickets are available online, by calling 416-866 8666 or in person at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts box office, located at 55 Mill Street, Building 49 in the Distillery District.
Photo of Michelle Monteith, Fiona Byrne,Kyrstin Pellerin, and Deborah Drakeford by Sian Richard