Thursday, 18 April 2013

All is Fair in Love and War

I've had an on-again, off-again crush on a certain individual for the past several months. When things were a bit more on-again between us, he suggested we attend a performance of VideoCabaret's The War of 1812 together. He had seen a couple of their previous shows and thought they might be something that I would enjoy. With the future of our relationship up in the air, we met up last night regardless for dinner and a show. The War of 1812 is playing at The Young Centre in the Distillery Historic District, which although built a few decades later in 1832, is an apt locale for a play that details the invasion of York by the Americans.

So, this dude that I've been dating has a bit of a fetish for Canadiana. Canadian politics, art and literature seem to be his bag. I almost expected him to come out of the bedroom dressed in full Mountie gear one night. (As it turned out that was my fantasy, not his.) It's no wonder that VideoCabaret's themes appeal to him. Their historically accurate yet irreverent plays have been pleasing audiences for years at Toronto's Cameron House and also during a sold-out run at The Stratford Festival last year.

I came to the play having lost most of my Grade 8 History Class knowledge on the dance floor, so I was excited to hopefully not only see some good theatre but also get a little War of 1812 refresher along the way.

I don't know why this troupe of talented actors wasn't on my radar before now. Admittedly, Canadian history isn't really my thing. But with writing and direction by Michael Hollingsworth, events such as the Battle of Stoney Creek come alive with over-the-top, camp performances by the cast of eight who each play several different characters, seemingly changing costumes in the dark within seconds. Historical figures portrayed with irreverent glee by the company include Major General Isaac Brock, civilian heroine and chocolate company namesake, Laura Secord and U.S. President James Madison and his wife, Dolley. The only character who seems to narrowly escape Hollingsworth's cheeky treatment is Tecumseh, the Native American who allied with the British during the war. 

The War of 1812 is a great piece of theatre. The performances are all fantastic caricatures, aided by fabulous costumes and precise lighting design. If History Class had included these tales of homosexuality, drinking and debauchery, I might have sat up and taken notice. VideoCab's The War of 1812 is a unique theatre experience that I am grateful my "friend" introduced me to. I'll keep you posted on the progress of our relationship. All is fair in love and war.

The War of 1812 is on stage now at The Young Centre for the Performing Arts. 
Tickets at or by phone at 416-866-8666.

(UPDATE - Relationship over!)

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