Trudeau Stories, a one-woman show, written and performed by Brooke Johnson, is a kind of scrapbook performance animating the actor/playwright’s real-life relationship with Canada’s fifteenth Prime Minister. Through her charmingly candid stories, pulled from memories, journal entries, and letters, Johnson subtly and aptly explores themes of identity and relationships, and the manner in which the two shape one another.
Going into last night’s preview performance, an Igor fundraiser, at the LSPU Hall, I knew only the superficial details of Trudeau, being a child of the late eighties with a limited knowledge of Canadian politics. I had heard of his reputation as a charmer and flamboyant celebrity type, a playboy worthy of a Carly Simon song, so I was curious to learn more about this iconic Canadian figure.
Just what was it about him that was so fascinating, anyway?
An intimate atmosphere is conjured before the show even begins – warm lights illuminate a bare bones set (an armchair and a box on a piece of linoleum floor) and music with an air of nostalgia softly plays as I settle in for what promises to be a compelling look at Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
What takes me by surprise, though, is how intriguing and magnetic the character of Brooke Johnson proves to be. An impish figure, she pounces onstage in humble attire – worn jeans, a simple cardigan, and thick stockings with no shoes. With the weightless energy of a child, she starts, appropriately, at the beginning – her first encounter with Trudeau. Like her attire, her account is down-to-earth and honest as she describes an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction during their first meeting.
Johnson maintains this magnetism and high energy as she bounces from Trudeau’s story to her own. She seamlessly shifts back and forth between naive acting student and worldly politician, somehow keeping a lightning-fast pace, while at the same time exposing all the little details that give this story its spice.
This play, which will have travelled to most of the country within in the next few months, should not be missed. Funny and poignant, light yet powerful, Trudeau Stories is definitely worth braving the cold for.
Directed by Allyson McMackon, Trudeau Stories continues at the LSPU Hall until Sunday, November 28. Showtimes are at 8 pm. More details on the poster, below.