Reviews - Fringe 2009

A Glendale Christmas

By Tom Mackan
Published July 26, 2009

Claudia Yiu
Directed by Tom Haxell
Featuring: Katerina Georgieva, Michael Iliadis, Kate Knox, Laura K MacDonald, Philippe Poirier, Allison Price, Claudia Yiu

Playwright Claudia Yiu understands something about the upwardly mobile grown-ups who mate and nest in the neat suburbs of Canada's middle class enclaves. They are overgrown high school undergraduates who have not progressed in the evolution of the species. They've just got bigger and got married.

Late adolescent emotions have become adult battlegrounds and territorial squabbles have morphed into mannered skirmishes. Going steady has become making a marriage work, but the skills to achieve this are still the shallow sentimentalities of romance novels. Privilege is the badge of maturity, boredom the product of indulgence.

In Glendale it's Christmas. Already inflated expectations of life are further pumped to a dangerous level. Greg and Claudia (brilliantly played by Michael Iliadis and Claudia Yiu) live in a private war zone of their own, their weapons of words fired with such a grasp of reality that we are at first so stunned that we laugh out loud. Neighbours Vicky (the exceptional Allison Price) and Jim (the nearly flawless Phillipe Poirier) are a contrast in a carefully managed d├ętente of apparent domestic bliss.

This is all challenged by a neighbourhood organization of suburban wives whose annual Christmas do brings it all out in the open. Terrific acting from Katerina Georgieva as Tina, Kate Knox as Diana, Laura K MacDonald as Pat lead this phalanx of misguided do-gooders right into the line of fire.

Yiu weaves it all together in a marvellously crafted play. She puts the focus on Greg and Claudia, allowing them to bitterly hate through a fog of selfishness and misunderstanding yet brings it all to a necessary resolution so very well. Director Tom Haxell manages his large cast in a difficult, overly large space with limited resources with admirable skill, and the whole effect is of a fine ensemble, an ably knit piece worthy of this already very rich Festival.

Bravo, bravissimo!

One more performance of this show at 7:30pm, Sunday, at BMO. Do get over there and give this group the really big house it deserves.

TNgM

Tom Mackan is Publisher and editor of NEWZY BITZ, an online Community Theatre newsletter in the GHA, with over 200 subscribers. He is a Member of the Board, Theatre Burlington; an actor and director in GHA Community Theatre for fifty years; winner of over 25 awards and citations in the Western Ontario region and beyond; recipient of 2007 City of Hamilton Arts Award (Theatre); a Graduate of Canadian Theatre School (Sterndale Bennett) Toronto, 1955; and a retired teacher of English and Drama in public and private schools in the GHA and abroad.

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