Valentines through the ages & the private face of grief in Shotgun Juliet’s intimate, tender Jewel

Pip Dwyer in Jewel. Photo by Jackie Smulan.

 

Shotgun Juliet opened its production of Joan MacLeod’s Jewel, directed by Matthew Eger, to a packed house at Red Sandcastle Theatre last night.

Jewel was inspired by the sinking of the Ocean Ranger oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland during a Valentine’s Day storm on the Atlantic on February 15, 1982, a national tragedy that saw 84 lives lost. The two-year Canadian Royal Commission that followed found numerous design and safety flaws, as well as ineffective inspection and regulation, and subsequently made a number of recommendations to the oil and gas industry, as well as the federal government. Lawsuits were settled out of court in a $20-million package, duly noted in the program notes as “peanuts for oil companies.”

Jewel puts a deeply personal face on this tragedy. Set in the Peace River Valley on Valentine’s Day 1985, three years after the accident, we’re in Marjorie’s (Pip Dwyer) mobile home. Dressed in a flannel nighty, long johns, boots and a heavy knit jacket, and holding a bucket of milk, we find her standing in her kitchen, starring a million miles away. Remembering.

She recounts Valentine’s Days over the years, a personal history of romance that is both touching and hilariously funny. Especially endearing is the unfolding romance with Harry, who proposed to her – a city girl from Calgary – in a tent in Northern Alberta. And then Valentine’s Day 1982, when Harry was one of the men working on the Ocean Ranger and the RCMP arrived on her doorstep. Listening to country music and local messages on the radio, and occasionally hollering at the dog to stay outside, she shares homemade beer and speaks to Harry throughout – and the love comes through. The heartache. The loss. The disbelief. The anger. The trying to move on.

Dwyer gives a luminous, compelling performance in this emotional, haunting solo show. Radiating that classic, independent Prairie girl can-do attitude, her Marjorie is cheeky, funny and straight-talking – and also deeply vulnerable. Fiercely and romantically committed to her marriage, Marjorie’s still wearing her wedding ring and speaking with the ghost of her love three years after he’s gone. The reason for this loss is infuriating – and we share her disbelief and anger, the intimate staging putting us in that mobile home kitchen with her. And that private expression of love, loss and grief is both beautiful and heartbreaking to watch.

With shouts to John Dwyer, who supplied his voice-over talents as the affable local Radio Host. And to the design team, including Jackie Smulan, Blair Purdy and the company for the homey, detailed kitchen set, and the equally warming music and evocative atmospheric sound.

Valentines through the ages and the private face of grief in Shotgun Juliet’s intimate, tender Jewel.

Jewel continues at Red Sandcastle Theatre till February 14, with evening performances at 8pm and a matinee on February 11 at 2pm; advance tickets available online. It’s an intimate space and a short run, so advance booking is strongly recommended.

 

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Valentine’s Day goes Femme Fatale @ The Beautiful & the Damned

Passion, poetry, music – and fun, sexy and moving times – at Glad Day Bookshop last night during The Beautiful and The Damned Femme Fatale Valentine’s Day edition, hosted by the lovely and talented Lizzie Violet, who also acted as quiz mistress on this month’s dead celeb Gloria Grahame trivia questions. I had a blast, live tweeting the event, along with pics of all the performers.

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blueVenus: Jessica Stuart (guitar & backup vocals) & Andrea de Boer (lead vocals & violin)
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Philip Cairns
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Patricia Horton
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Norman Allen
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Marcie Rogers
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Myna Wallin
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Dianne Moore
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Lucille Barker
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Lizzie Violet
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Kat Leonard
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Josh Smith
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blueVenus’ Andrea de Boer

Feature performers included Josh Smith, Myna Wallin and blueVenus (Andrea de Boer & Jessica Stuart), and there were several excellent open mic artists as well, including Kat Leonard, who got us up on our feet dancing to the One Billion Rising music video on her iPad. Check out the pics from last night’s festivities.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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It’s so cliché – not to mention annoying and sad – to be a bitter single person today, so I’m choosing to celebrate with some lovely and talented friends at Glad Day Bookshop tonight: The Beautiful and The Damned Femme Fatale Valentine’s Day edition, hosted by Lizzie Violet – with feature performers Josh Smith, Myna Wallin and Andrea de Boer – doors open at 7 p.m.

If you’re up for some music, check out Heartbreakers (aka Songwriters) Circle of Jerks at Free Times Café, featuring Melting Pot, Big Name Actors, David Hustler and Nick Verona – doors open at 8:30 p.m.

Sorry to be missing the music at Free Times tonight. This gal has to get up bright and early for the office job tomorrow, then on to my first rehearsal for New Ideas Festival 2013 Week One reading of Jamie Johnson’s Falling, directed by Ed Rosing, at Alumnae Theatre. More on this acting gig soon.

What are you doing today?

My secret crush

Happy Valentine’s Day, all!

It’s a day of light and love – rife with the possibility of pining over a crush from afar. And I have a confession. I have a crush on Globe & Mail columnist John Doyle. It’s a professional crush, but a crush nonetheless. Read today’s column and you’ll see why:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/television/john-doyle/love-is-on-the-air-stay-home-and-watch-tv/article2336876/

See what I mean? A witty, irreverent and astute writer and t.v. critic, possessing of a winsome combination of crankiness and charm. And, I must admit, there’s something about the Irish that gets to me – the ancestral resonance and all.

Happy Valentine’s Day, John Doyle. If you were a woman, I’d seriously consider proposing.