Review: Luba, Simply Luba (Pleiades)

Luba, Simply Luba (Pleiades Theatre)
Luba Gov of Royal Canadian Air Farce stars in Luba, Simply Luba at the Berkeley Street Theatre

I knew little of Luba Goy, of Royal Canadian Air Farce fame, before coming to her one-woman show on May 10, 2012. Luba, Simply Luba (Pleiades Theatre), playing at the Berkeley Street Theatre, discusses all the people that have helped shaped her life and the woman she is today.

She is incredibly accomplished. A child of Ukranian immigrants, she grew up in Ottawa, she attended National Theatre School of Canada, performed in Stratford, has appeared in numerous stage productions, and has won many awards including the Governor-General’s Performing Arts Award for Royal Canadian Air Farce.

There were nice touches throughout the show, such as the use of mini props to illustrate various scenes and memories of her life. Goy’s love of family adds warmth, and her comedy comes alive when impersonating the various characters she’s encountered.

Her stories and impressions are punctuated by musical accompaniment by Victor Mishalow, which really sets the mood – the play begins with clever interplay between the two artists, and you’ll wish it continued throughout. The show is full of anecdotes starting from her childhood journey on the boat all the way to be invited to a state dinner.

The main area for improvement would have been the structure of the show. Occasionally jumpy and at times unfocused; the play’s lack of a true narrative thread leaves you struggling to relate to its protagonist. My show partner found it extremely hard to follow as well.

Is the play about her father? Is it about a Canadian-Ukrainian immigrant? Is this about getting into comedy? Is this about where she ended up? Is this about freedom people for the people of Ukraine? It doesn’t have to be about only one of these things but the sum of these ideas is too much for ninety minutes and one woman – no matter how talented she may be.

The most compelling story line is Luba’s relationship with her father. Focusing on expressing how this shaped her career as an actress and perhaps her relationship with religion would to me have been perfect – but that is completely my personal preference. He seems to colour every aspect of her life and how she looks at it.

I think the most important thing to note about this show is that many of the individual elements were well done – there are just too many, and together they are too cluttered. That said, one-woman shows are hard to get right – particularly autobiographical ones.

Making creative – let alone editorial – choices about events in your own life, as something that may have had great importance to you personally is difficult, and even more so when rendered on stage.

Details

Luba, Simply Luba is playing at Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street) until May 26, 2012
– Shows run May 10-12, May 14-19, and May 22-26 at 8pm. There are matinees at 2pm on May 19, and 26, with a special seniors matinee on Victoria Day (Monday May 21 at 2pm)
– Tickets are available online, or through the box office at 416-368-3110– Ticket prices are $33 for adults, and $22 for seniors and students. The seniors discount matinee is $18.