Culture & Conversation


A collection of chance events

BOOKS: THE WIND IS NOT A RIVER by BRIAN PAYTON (HARPER COLLINS). When John disappears, Helen hatches an improbable plan of her own. She talks her way into a USO troupe and sings and dances her way to Alaska.

Igloofest pretty

Igloofest is crazy (and so are we)

Igloofest is what happens when you take North America’s only UNESCO City of Design, fill it with the continent’s most important digital arts scene, toss in some neon-glow ice cubes and then blend at full throttle – to the beats of some of the world’s best and biggest DJs come to play for Montreal’s notoriously fun-loving crowds.


I know that we are supposed to be impressed. This was a very successful French play, even winning the Governor General’s award for dramatic literature. I may also be a little hard on it because I recently saw Carmen Aquirre’s Blue Box, unquestionably one of the greatest one women shows ever.

Many revelations

There were so many reasons to find The Book of Bob astonishing. Job is not one of my favourite biblical stories. Just because Satan has a beef with the Almighty is not sufficient reason to do awful things to Job and his family. It seems utterly unjust that no one consults Mrs. Job about the testing of her husband. Arthur Holden has created a modern humanist secular persona who also suffers, seemingly at the hands of a female God. That in itself is a great improvement. Even Satan in this play is a female.

Below the bible belt

Verily, I have gazed upon this work of Arthur and it pleaseth me much. In The Book of Bob, Arthur Holden’s clever script is inspiringly performed by Ron Lea as Bob and Lucinda Davis as – are you ready? – God, Satan, a troublesome student, a university administrator, a cantankerous father, Bob’s wife and Bob’s son’s street wise gal friend.

The Seagull soars

One of the characters in The Seagull says that theatre is medicine and the audience needs healing. In the case of the Seagull, the medicine is both delicious and effective. The play is long, but one only notices that after it is over, the standing ovation ends, and you glance at a watch. In theatre time it transpires in a flash. This is first class medicine from some world class practitioners.


How did the US get where it is today?

George Packer is a New Yorker staff writer perhaps best known for his award-winning book The Assassins’ Gate on the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In The Unwinding, subtitled An Inner History of the New America, he examines the lives of individual Americans over several decades to back his contention that the U.S. has become a country where Wall Street titans reign supreme and where the productive economy is subordinated to galloping financialization.

Shhh….did it really happen?

It is indeed happening at the intimate Theatre Ste. Catherine, for an all too short run of four nights. The imaginative Third Eye Ensemble presents five short plays involving 27 characters played by 15 talented actors as a fund raiser for their autumn show.


Dionysian melancholia

FILM: THE GREAT BEAUTY. From the moment that actor Toni Servillo enters the stage with a dastardly grin you know that Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty will be a wild and wonderful ride.


Divine memories

FILM: I AM DIVINE. And there he was: Divine was wearing sweat pants, and hadn’t shaved (no photos, I was told). But he was full of vigour, fantastic anecdotes and ready to talk to me just as if I was Barbara Walters.


5 songs: ABBA

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision win with vintage hit single “Waterloo.” Despite consistently topping the charts for nearly a decade thereafter and selling over 400 million records worldwide, the legendary group remain a bit of an unknown quantity to fresh-faced listeners.

Out-standing artifacts

If you’ve yet to hear of local performance artist Chun Hua Catherine (Cat) Dong, let me introduce you. Cat, originally from China, was schooled at Emily Carr and holds an MFA from Concordia. Her performances have spanned the globe—from Lithuania to Italy to Germany—and her work has been exhibited in North America, Europe and Asia.


Darkness abides

FILM: DARK LULLABIES. It is a search for answers as to how many German officers and administrators could contribute to the horrors of their jobs, while at home they were often pleasant, cultured family men with kind hearts.