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Must See: “His Greatness” at Factory Theatre

Again … so soon! Reporting on yet another fine Toronto day – a great play, an interesting

soiree … W*yson and I saw a matinee at Factory Theatre of “His Greatness” by the marvellous Daniel MacIvor, who also stars, along with an old actor friend of mine, Richard Donat, and a terrific young actor. At the end of Tennessee Williams’s life, in 1980, he spent time in Vancouver as the Vancouver Playhouse produced one of his last plays. The play is set in his hotel room on opening day, where he and his assistant and former lover bicker and chat, and where a young man, a gay hustler hired by the assistant as Tennessee’s escort, both encourages and interferes with the familiar patterns of the two older men.

It’s beautifully written, beautifully acted and directed and produced – sad, joyful and true. My friend and I loved it and were stunned that the theatre wasn’t packed. It’s really MacIvor’s love letter to the theatre and to playwrights, and also to us, the audience. Don’t miss it.
I was in Vancouver in 1980 and met Tennessee Williams, who came to my UBC playwriting class to talk about his work. I remember little about the event – pregnant at the time, I was always hungry and thinking of food – so what else is new? – except for suspecting that he was a little drunk and doing it all by rote. But I felt honoured to meet him. The Playhouse play, “The Red Devil Battery Sign,” was pretty bad. Funny to go back and remember all that, and then see the man recreated with so much respect, honesty and heart.
This evening is Nuit Blanche, and though it isn’t raining, it’s cold. COLD. I went out on my bicycle wearing many layers and still froze. Downtown is jammed with hundreds of thousands of people, wandering around looking for art and trying to keep warm. One installation was perfect – it was a kind of ballet of fire, big machines spewing out flames in rhythm, funny and, as importantly, warm. At City Hall they were strapping people into wings and sending them “flying” between towers, with strange laser lights beaming about. I’m sure there are many fascinating things to see, but the crowds and the freezing wind did me in pretty quickly.
We’re not ready for winter yet, Mother Nature – slow down a bit, will you, please?



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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