1988, 2017, Theatre

Confederation Part II: Canadian Pacific Scandal and The Saskatchewan Rebellion (part of The History of the Village of Small Huts) Live at Soulpepper Thursday July 27

We liked Part I of this section of The History of the Village of Small Huts that we went back for more.

Like the first part, Part II is composed of two “one act” series of Tableaux, wherein nearly clownishy-costumed figures give brief glimpses into the major (and some minor) events in a particular part of Canadian history, this time covering the decision to create the Canadian Pacific Railroad and the Northwest Rebellion (or, how the play calls it, the “Saskatchewan rebellion). (As an aside, I don’t think it’s pronounced SaskatcheWAAN. Ahem.)

Because we’ve seen one Video Cabaret production already, I think it’s safe to say the novelty wore off a bit. The first time experience of seeing Canadian history told in this radical way really is something else and, once you’ve seen one, at least some of the charm is gone.

That being said, these two “plays” still skewer sacred cows with near complete abandon (only Big Bear and Gabriel Dumont are really spared) and they once again manage to mostly find a balance between comedy and tragedy so that, we the audience, do not spend too much time moping. (Though there are definitely some moments that powerfully remind us of what happened.)

One thing I really enjoyed about this part was the “play” devoted to the CPR scandal, as I had forgotten that story (if I ever learned it). The cynical version of it presented here is actually the kind of version needed in history classes.

The rebellion half was considerably harder to stage (given it involves battles, albeit extremely minor ones) but I think they did a pretty good job, given the constraints of the style.

Much like Part I, I would recommend this to anyone at all interested in our history, or particularly to people looking to engage their teenagers in Canadian history (at both shows there were teens, so good for these parents!).

Well worth your time.

8/10

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