Review: Mister Paradise & 27 Wagons Full of Cotton (Another Theatre Co. & Theatre Brouhaha, as part of The Tennessee Project)


Amongst Tennessee Williams’ most memorable characters, there’s Blanche DuBois, of course, and Laura Wingfield.

Then there’s Flora Meighan.

And as portrayed by Kelly McCormack, in Theatre Brouhaha’s production of 27 Wagons Full of Cotton as part of The Tennessee Project, Flora is easily the funniest of Mr. Williams’ ladies.

The Tennessee Project runs from May 1st to May 7th 2012 at various locations in Toronto.

I saw it at the Kiwanis Club for Boys And Girls, in Cabbagetown.

Like The School of Toronto Dance Theatre a few blocks to the north, the Clubhouse is located in a large, deconsecrated church that’s recently undergone extensive renovations.

The Games Room, where the shows take place, struck me as a colossal space. Along one wall, a fairly broad, low platform has been assembled from black risers. Lighting and sound equipment seemed at a bare minimum.

The unpretentious, uncomplicated nature of the production immediately appealed to me.

Mister Paradise was the first billing of the night. It featured Kate Besworth and Peter Messaline.

Mr. Messaline, whose credits include – I thought this was funny – “the brain dead janitor” in Billy Madison, plays a Salinger-esque literary recluse visited by Ms. Besworth’s character.

27 Wagons Full of Cotton came next, after a brief intermission.

In the latter, we follow Ms. McComack’s character – a lipstick caked, Coca-Cola guzzling youngster named Flora Meighan – as she is manipulated by two men. Her husband Jake, portrayed in a greasy undershirt and oily hair by Daniel Pagett, and; Silva, a fastidiously well-dressed businessman who sports a riding crop tucked under his belt, portrayed by Anthony Rella.

Because both Mister Paradise and 27 Wagons Full of Cotton are one act plays, I hesitate to say much more about either at the risk of giving away too much.

They are, as one patron told me, “sweet” – referring to the somewhat elegiac Mister Paradise – and, “intense” – referring to the abuse laden comedy, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton.

I agree.

Together they make for an engaging night of theatre.




2 thoughts on “Review: Mister Paradise & 27 Wagons Full of Cotton (Another Theatre Co. & Theatre Brouhaha, as part of The Tennessee Project)”

  1. I see your critic for Mr. Paradise (The Tennessee Project) referred to Peter Messaline as the title character. Actually, Mr. Messaline was replaced by myself a few days before the production. There were inserts in the programme with this new information.

  2. Following up on the insert informing the audience of a change in cast for Mr. Paradise, the bio the critic quoted from was mine – it was I who was in Billy Madison, not Peter. Peter’s bio was, I believe, in the actual programme.

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