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Queen Lear

Jennifer McPhee and Shirley Broderick. Photo by Tim MathesonQueen Lear by Eugene Stickland
Directed by Colleen Winton
Western Gold Theatre and Presentation House Theatre
Presentation House
Mar 25 to Apr 10, 2010

Vancouver,BC:  Memory - what a powerful emotional factor in so many ways. Is there anyone among us mature (never "older") individuals who does not fear  loss of memory as a foreshadowing of loss of mind? I know that every time I can't for the moment recall the name of the lead character in the book I just read, or an actor in a play I reviewed last year, I can feel that  my RAM is failing but there is no store where I can buy an upgrade as I can for my computer.

But we can laugh off  these memory lapses  as minor incidents. For an actor whose biggest nightmare would be to come up blank with lines on stage - wow- how much more frightening an age-related decline in memory would be.

In a heart-wrenching performance, Shirley Broderick conveys the anguish of knowing that one - and one's ability to learn - is not what it was at fifteen!

Broderick plays Jane, a "not-old"  aging actress who is to play Lear in an all-female production. She arranges for Heather, the schoolgirl daughter of her deceased best friend, to help her learn her lines.  In the process, both learn to look at life a little differently.

Shirley Broderick and Peggy Lee. Photo by Tim MathesonIn an interesting contrast to the absolute realism of her set for The Love List, designer Pam Johnson strings glistening filaments chaotically across and above the playing space. Peggy Lee's cello reflects the calmness and the chaos of Jane's emotions so we have both  visual and auditory cues to the state of her mind.

Although I found the pace of this production a little slow and drawn out, Broderick captured perfectly the inner fears of aging, and the strength of character that is needed to keep a driven individual striving towards success. Jennifer McPhee was sweet as the young Heather, who really wants to hang out with her friends but comes to appreciate Jane.  Jane learns from  Heather too and in the process both acquire new skills.

I would  recommend this show to both young and "mature". It is a simple sweet story though rather obvious and it does provide a sense of appreciation for the other generation.

Actually I learned something too. Thanks to Heather my texting has speeded up considerably.  I already had the "c u l8r, ttyl and lol" but now I have a whole new vocabulary.

So I will tell you how to get tickets - but then I really GTG

For Tickets: (604) 990-3474 or on line at PHTHEATRE.ORG