Theatre students bring 1920s flair

GBC theatre school’s flapper-style feminism brought the energy on opening night

★★★☆☆

The theatre students are at it again.

The George Brown Theatre Company (GBTC) held their opening night of George Bernard Shaw’s play You Never Can Tell on Feb. 7. The play was the culminating project for students completing the theatre arts performance program at George Brown College (GBC).

The story followed Mrs. Clandon and her three children returning to England after living 18 years on the island of Madeira.

Mrs. Clandon refused to tell her children who their father is due to their separation when the children were young. Through a comedy of errors, and thanks to an incredibly dedicated waiter and his son, the family ended up being reunited.

The play explored themes of early feminism and human nature, all while commenting on the ridiculousness of societal norms such as the need for a woman to have a father to be respected.

“It was a really fun process,” said Georgia Findlay who played the character of Mrs. Clandon.

What one sees on the stage may look seamless, but that is only thanks to the amount of effort put in from each member of the cast.

In the play, there is a choreographed scene with multiple waiters serving Mrs. Clandon and ensemble.

The scene had to be perfectly timed, according to Findlay, “If I say my line before they’ve gotten to the right side of the table with the soup bowl, then everyone just knocks into each other,”  she said.

Findlay played the perfect Mrs Clandon. She was delightfully angry, but not so over-the-top that her character came off as a caricature.

It would have been easy to play this character up to just be a comedic tyrant, but Findlay’s dynamic performance made the character entirely human. Findlay was able to make the audience believe she was so much older and wiser than real her age with just her voice, face, and body language.

Another highlight of the night was Michael Williamson’s performance as Waiter. Although this was clearly not supposed to be a main role, Williamson made it one

Williamson’s dedication to embodying Alfred from Batman truly set him apart. He always stayed in character, even during set changes, by dancing around and tidying up as if the stage were his home.

He even had the entire audience collectively coo as his eyes lit up at the chance of waiting on the main cast. I always appreciate someone who can make something great with little material, and Williamson did just that, going above and beyond in his role.

I will point out that it would have been great to see more of the actors’ faces during the production, as it made it difficult to understand the dialogue at times.

All in all, for an opening night where nerves are at their highest, the production definitely entertained and delighted.  I would highly suggest this play for anyone who is not as aware of Shaw’s works, as it was a great experience.

This production is being staged at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tankhouse Lane, Toronto and runs until Feb. 16. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students (student ID required) and can be purchased from the Young Centre’s website.

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Theatre students bring 1920s flair