Entertainment Local

Play’s subject deep, but still raises questions

By John Swartz



Two interesting things happened since we last got together: Mariposa Arts Theatre (MAT) and the Orillia Silver Band both had events.

MAT’s Death and the Maiden is running the balance of this week at the Orillia Opera House, closing Sunday at 2 p.m.

Valerie Thornton is a tortured and raped victim of a former fascist regime, Ian Munday is her husband, a lawyer who has just been selected to head a commission investigating where all the people went during the regime and who is responsible for it, and Frank Kewin is a doctor who stops to help a motorist in need.

The thing is, the Good Samaritan may not be as advertised. He helps the husband with a flat tire and then drops by after learning of the government appointment. Our victim recognizes his voice and is sure it’s her torturer.

The trouble I had with the story is with the lawyer/husband. He has ideals and wants to expose the dirty deeds and right all the wrongs, but when it comes to his wife and her claims (knowing her history quite well), he’s not sure whether to believe her and wants to be fair to his new friend, the doctor.

I don’t know about you, but if someone close to me had a known, troubled history and then went into full panic/PTSD mode over something like this, I might be a bit skeptical at the outset, but not so much as to make my loved one feel like she is the opposition. Our lawyer never really seems to be on his wife’s side.

The doctor eventually gives up a confession. But does he? Is the possibility of being killed a motivating factor? He may have confessed, but the epilogue confuses the answer.

While watching the play, current events intruded in mind. What is the truth? One side lies like a rug, we think, and the other goes overboard to be gracious and fair when maybe a little more spine is needed.

On Sunday, I stopped in for a second time to see the Birch Bark Boys play some jazz at Mark IV Brothers Café on Nottawasaga Street. John Harrisun (piano, guitar) and Nate Robertson (drums) work very well together. Harrisun plays some standards, though you might not realize they are standards at first, and some reworked pop tunes. Robertson is not the most technically proficient drummer, but he plays interesting rhythms and his brush work is inventive and very good. Craig Mainprize makes it a trio on guitar, but both times, he’s had to leave early, so I didn’t get to hear his contribution.

While the band is taking a breather, they invite others to fill in with a tune, or a story. To that end, Dav Langstroth told a story while I was there and I found out recently he is going to host a storytelling event on Tuesdays at Mark IV from 6 to 8 p.m.

You can catch the Birch Bark Boys on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

At the Salvation Army Citadel, the Orillia Silver Band (OSB) had a concert. I’ve written a lot of good things about them this concert season, so I won’t go crazy telling you about what you are missing by not seeing them perform.

But, a thought emerged during the concert about what makes them sound so different from past years and puts them, in my book, at the top of great performing groups.

They played excellently throughout the concert, including Robert Redhead’s God is There (Redhead was in the audience), but their second-last piece really crystallized what sets them apart.

The ending of Deep Harmony is a series of very short unison chords, punctuation signalling the end. The band went through them without a misplaced attack or release and with a solid, balanced sound. Then they landed on the final chord. It was full. No one was playing the wrong note; no one was sticking out of the sound mix. It was just perfect.

Getting something like that to work virtually flawlessly takes a bit of effort on the part of the players to be listening to each other and placing one’s own sound just right in the mix, and working with the conductor so everyone is performing to the same point in time. I had goosebumps – it was that good.

The OSB is also good at finding music to play that we haven’t necessarily heard before and that an audience can instantly latch onto. One can play a boring piece of music very well, or one can play something with some zip. They closed with an encore of Amazonia from their Mariposa Sketches CD. It was a great musical journey and you must make an effort to catch their next concert May 6 at St. Paul’s Centre.

Gospel and Blues

I’ve made this point before: You can listen to your favourite music at home, or catch something on the radio or computer, but there is no comparison at all to hearing a live performance. Listening to a band, or a singer, or seeing a musical play puts you right in the middle of it all in a way your Bose (I hope you have better) speakers can never match.

All the lucky people with tickets to Saturday night’s Mariposa-in-Concert Gospel and Blues show at the Best Western Mariposa Inn with a band put together by Lance Anderson are going to find out how true that is.

The show is sold out, but you never know who can’t go at the last minute.

Call the Mariposa office, 705-326-3655, and you might get lucky.

Rants! Raves!! Info? Write John at watchthisproductions@encode.com.


Swartz’s shorts

• The annual International Women’s Day Art Show opens at the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) Saturday at 1 p.m. OMAH also has a travelling fibre art show featuring the work of 80 artists. Suite 204 has an 8x10 group show on. Paul Baxter is the feature artist at Peter Street Fine Arts this month. The Orillia Fine Arts Association has new paintings hanging at the Couchiching Family Team centre on Memorial Avenue; they also have art at White Lions Tea House and in the Green Room at the Orillia Opera House. Lee Contemporary Art has new work by Tanya Cunnington opening Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

• The City of Orillia has a workshop Feb. 22 at city hall for festival and event people. Insurance and risk management are the topics. Register at orillia.survey.esolutionsgroup.ca/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=76M0n78.

• The Orillia Vocal Ensemble has a concert Feb. 26 at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre. As always, it’s a fundraiser, this time for Hospice Orillia. The guest performer is Angie Nussey. There’s no admission, but it’s a fundraiser, so they’re going to take donations.

• The Huronia Cultural Campus received its charitable status qualifications this week. Onward and upward.

• Coming up: The Brownstone is busy this week; Thursday night, it’s the Drunk Poets’ Society; My Father’s Son is in Friday night; Amberwood is in Saturday – and hanging around on the walls is a photo exhibit of Tyler Knight’s work. Steph Dunn is at Lake Country Grill Wednesdays and at Era 67 Thursdays. Hear jazz at Swanmore Hall with Sol City Jazz Fridays at 6 p.m. Ian Chaplin and Matt James host a jam Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. at Carousel Collectables. The Cellar Singers have a concert featuring Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem March 3 at St. Paul’s Centre. MAT’s next Film Night is March 1 at the Galaxy with Cannes award winner Daniel Blake; showtimes are 4 and 7 p.m. 

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