Travels With My Aunt

A nice long weekend has passed.

Dorval Island Closing

Actually, longer than a weekend since I drove off to Dorval on Wednesday and Thursday to help my aunt close her cottage (clear, cold, windy, even colder over night, huge rafts of sea-weed on the beaches). Driving to and from Ottawa was easy. Getting the ferry over the sea-weeds was more interesting. Apparently they had the Dorval fire truck out last week to thrust the weeds into the river with fire hoses. That didn't last long. On the way back, we saw them using a front end loader with the bucket replaced by a pair of steel posts with a piece of wire fence between them. It seemed quite effective at scooping up the weeds and tossing them into a truck.

On Sunday I managed to get in some more time playing Final Fantasy 7 (STILL on CD #1), then on Monday I helped out with preparing the garden for winter (digging up Dahlias, putting away watering equipment, that sort of thing).

The Play

Last night (Monday), I got dragged along to see a preview of the play called "Travels With My Aunt", as if I hadn't done enough of that the previous week :-). It was based on the book by Graham Green and staged in the NAC studio.

The actors were amazingly good at body language and voices - four male actors of assorted sizes and colours and voices swapped between roles as needed. Sometimes all four were playing the same character in sequence (one exclaims that a letter has arrived, the next opens the letter, the next reads it out loud). Other times they would settle down and one would principly do aunt Augusta, another do the boring banker character (who grows dahlias as his hobby) and the rest do others. The instantaneous body language changes between playing the boring banker and his flirtacious aunt or giant black servant are quite amazing, along with the voice changes. There's even a really good and funny dog imitation in the play!

The set too is multifunctional and simple - rearranging chairs gives you a taxi, a few trunks in a pile are either a train carriage or a WWII German staff car. There are also three rear-projected pillars which label the place ("Lyon" shifting through them gives you the feeling of going through a train station in France) and give a graphical backdrop at other times.

The story is quite good, funny and with good character development. It revolves around the aunt and her shady dealings with an old lover / war criminal in 1969. The main character is a retired banker, a nice quiet person, whose life is upset by his aunt - making him travel to Istanbul on a smuggling trip, subjecting him to police inspections and jail, and all sorts of other funny things. He eventually discovers that his past wasn't quite so ordinary. Anyway, very entertaining and worth the trip if you want to take a night off from TV and FF7.

- Alex

Copyright © 1999 by Alexander G. M. Smith.