Outdated Inventory: a Refugee Love Story
Reviewed October 16, 2019
NAC Babs Asper Theatre, Ottawa
(Repeat performances by means of October 27, 7:30 p.m.)
This musical play, written by Ottawa-born Hannah Moscovitch (in collaboration with Ben Caplan and Christian Barry), is a curious and entertaining mixture of tragedy and humour based mostly on the true lives of Moscovitch’s nice grandparents. Moscovitch, an award-winning Canadian playwright at the moment in residence at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, admits to taking inventive liberties together with her story to fill in gaps in her data of precise occasions.
Briefly, it’s a saga of two Jewish Romanian refugees who meet at Halifax’s Pier 2 in 1908 amongst “the swirling human mass” of European immigrants fleeing persecution – a human expertise that also resonates at the moment.
Set in a transport container, the unfolding love story takes place in Montreal, the place the couple settle and go on to depart a legacy of 19 grandchildren, we be taught on the finish.
Produced by 2b theatre of Halifax, the 90-minute present is dominated by storyteller/songwriter Ben Caplan, who narrates in fabulous over-the-top in-your-face type as a personality referred to as The Wanderer. He’s the glue that holds the play collectively, the puppet-master that directs the protagonists Eric Da Costa as Chaim (who doubles as a clarinetist) and Mary Fay Coady as his spouse Chaya (who additionally performs the violin).
Every so often, Caplan beaks the fourth wall to ask the viewers, for instance, in the event that they’re alright after a very darkish passage within the story. Or to ask what we consider the lovers. “Can these individuals be pleased?” he questions the viewers. “They’re so out of shape.”
Chaim, despite or possibly as a result of he witnessed the slaughter of his total household, is an endearing and decided younger man of 19, who clings to the primary girl he meets when he units foot in Canada, and Chaya, who has already misplaced a husband to typhus and a child to hunger, is a bit jaded and infrequently unapproachable, however prepared to think about the choice to loneliness.
Caplan steers the script by means of the heartbreak and the sorrow with a bevy of songs set to a klezmer rating, principally written by Caplan and director (and set designer) Christian Barry.
The truth that the story is an actual one intensifies its emotional affect, however the script nonetheless entwines a beneficiant pinch of wit and attraction within the abbreviated story of the lives of two individuals who have fled horror and heartbreak.
Whereas the play premiered first in Halifax two-and-a-half years in the past, the present’s huge launch was throughout Canada’s 150th anniversary in the summertime of 2017 on the Nationwide Arts Centre’s Canada Scene competition. Since then it has toured internationally and carried out greater than 200 occasions.