display | more...

I've already written on Friday the 13th. In fact, I received the call while I was penning March 13, 2020, just before dinner.

We'd attended a surprise birthday party the previous Saturday, and the guest of honour and my wife made plans for lunch. She and her husband often donate to local theatre, and are producers of some shows. In any case, they met for lunch downtown.

My wife's friend received a call regarding a meeting at the theatre. She brought my wife with her.

Elsewhere in town, a playwright awaited opening night.

Emma Donoghue has written for decades, but it's fair to say her greatest fame came from the novel Room. This brilliant book, disturbing and hopeful, became a bestseller. Hollywood made a movie from it-- which should no more be mistaken for Tommy Wiseau's The Room than David Cronenberg's Crash should be confused with Paul Haggis's film of the same name. Then it became a play. The story concerns a woman, kidnapped as a teenager and held captive by a sinister man. She gives birth to a son and must raise him in a room. It's the only world he knows, and their life seems entirely normal to him. Ma, however, knows their situation cannot continue, and she plots against their captor.

The story can be placed in different contexts. A version ran last year in Ireland, and a Korean company wants to stage a production.

The current adaptation came home to Canada, to the Irish-born author's adopted city-- our city, as it happens. They planned a run locally, followed by a touring production.

I can only imagine the monumental disappointment of the author, the director, the cast, and the crew when they heard the news. Due to COVID-19 (the reality of which we were only just beginning to grasp), the theatre would close. Opening night would not happen.

At the meeting, the theatre announced, in addition to the closing, that they would stage a "final rehearsal" that would run early in the evening, mainly for friends and families of the cast and crew. My wife, being by sheer happenstance at the right place and time, received the nod, and asked if I could join her. I wondered about the ethics and safety of going, but we'd had few cases in this county at that point, and I cannot change the circumstances surrounding this one event.

They transformed Donoghue's powerful novel into an incredibly dynamic and touching piece of theatre, one of the best I've seen. It's decidedly different from the strong film adaptation, and more affecting. And we all had the opportunity to say these things, to the director, the actors, and the writer, while the crew packaged up the set.

I could review the acting, the theatrical effects, the music, and so forth, but I'm hoping, when this pandemic passes, the show will be revived, and, as intended, tour.

And when it does, I strongly recommend you see it.