This month the tiny but talented theatre company, Lindsay Little Theatre, will be performing the award-winning Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet).
The play was written by Ann-Marie MacDonald, a Canadian playwright, actor, novelist and broadcast host. MacDonald is perhaps most widely known for Fall on Your Knees, which was selected for Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club in 2002. Not bad for a first novel. As an actor, MacDonald has won a Gemini Award and earned a Genie nomination. Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) won a Canadian Authors Association Award, the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award, and the Governor General’s Award for Drama. Not bad for a first play.
Fall on Your Knees is a sweeping epic story that spans five generations of one family’s drama, secrets and betrayals. Oprah Winfrey described her reading experience as: “Many times during the reading of Fall on Your Knees, I would say, 'How can that be happening now?' And then I'd say, 'It's a book. It's a book. It's a book.'“
Here, the play’s the thing, and Goodnight Desdemona is a comedy and nothing like Fall on Your Knees. Or is it? MacDonald’s favoured themes of terrible secrets, attempted murder, and forbidden love are woven through the play, although for MacDonald fans this is no surprise as MacDonald draws material from another of her favourites, whose works share these themes: Shakespeare.
Goodnight Desdemona tells the story of a young English professor at Queen’s University, who ends up falling into her subconscious and confronting her own inner secrets. Constance Ledbelly’s doctoral dissertation postulates that both Romeo and Juliet and Othello were originally comedies, which could be proven if only she can decode a manuscript written by an alchemist. Her supervisor and crush, Professor Claude Night, tells her he’s leaving for Oxford University, throwing her into a crisis. She becomes depressed, and begins to throw out her things, when she suddenly falls into the wastebasket and begins a journey into her own subconscious.
Constance finds herself inside of Othello. She prevents Othello from killing his wife Desdemona, and then reveals Iago’s trickery. In the ensuing and unpreventable fall-out, Constance wins Desdemona’s help in her search for the “wise fool”, the missing Shakespearean character who secures the happy ending for a comedy.
Next, Constance finds herself inside Romeo and Juliet. She breaks up the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt before Tybalt can fatefully stab Mercutio. Romeo mistakes Constance for a boy and quickly falls in love with “Constantine.” Again Constance searches for the missing “wise fool” character, and unwittingly ends up winning Juliet’s affections, as well. Mix-up and hilarity ensue.
You won’t want to miss LLT’s production. The play has been well cast with actors who were meant for Shakespeare. One of the actors, Tyrnan O’Driscoll starred this summer in Boy Wonders performed for the Toronto Fringe Festival. He gives both fun and memorable performances as both Iago and Romeo.
For Andrew Bain, this is his first acting performance for the stage, but as you will discover he has a voice that was meant to spout Shakespeare. (Don’t miss our feature about Andrew Bain’s previous appearance at LLT as the opening act for Constellations.)
Rebecca Anne Bloom has appeared on stage for several LLT productions over the past couple of years, but here she takes on the lead role of Constance, bringing an authenticity to the part as the young professor learns to find her inner fire.
Goodnight Desdemona is an exceptionally enjoyable comedy with undercurrents of more serious topics of gender, sexuality, and feminism. It is a big play, but well-handled by first-time director, Shannon Peters Bain.
Lindsay Little Theatre
November 16, 17, 23 @ 8 PM; 25 @ 2 PM
Adults $20 | Students $15
Written By: Ann-Marie MacDonald
Directed By: Shannon Peters Bain
Rebecca Anne Bloom…..….Constance Ledbelly
Ce’Nedra Goswell…..….Student ’Julie, uh Jill’ / Juliet
Sidney Worden…..….Ramona / Desdemona
Andre Canivet…..….Othello / Tybalt
Tyrnan O’Driscoll…..….Iago / Romeo
Andrew Bain…..….Professor Claude Night / Ghost
Colette Marshall Schroter…..….Juliet’s Nurse
Logan Gerzymisch…..….Servant / A Soldier of Cyprus
Holly Warren…..….understudy, Constance Ledbelly