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live theatre

Review: Thanks for Giving

By SHERI RADFORD

Oct. 2017

Caacumh – Aaron M. Wells, Tom McBeath, Deneh’Cho Thompson, Leslie Dos Remedies, Tai Amy Grumman and Margo Kane in Thanks for Giving. Photo by Emily Cooper.

Like many Thanksgiving feasts, this one is stuffed a bit too full for comfort, though it does ultimately satisfy. Written and directed by Governor General’s Award–winner Kevin Loring, Thanks for Giving tells the story of Nan (Margo Kane) and her family. Nan is a First Nations woman whose second husband, Clifford (Tom McBeath), is a white man and avid hunter who never even attempts to understand the issues facing Indigenous people. Nan’s daughter, Sue (Andrea Menard), battles addiction and pain of both the physical and physiological varieties. Nan’s grandchildren John (caacumhi – Aaron M. Wells), Clayton (Deneh’Cho Thompson) and Marie (Tai Amy Grauman) each have their own demons to face. Also taking a place at the strife-filled Thanksgiving table is Sam (Leslie Dos Remedios), Marie’s lesbian lover who is posing as her roommate.

Shyama-Priya and Tom McBeath in Thanks for Giving. Photo by Emily Cooper.

The action kicks off with Clifford shooting a bear, an act that has repercussions both in the family and in the greater world, as Clifford ultimately faces prison time and a fine substantial enough to bankrupt the family. The first act takes place during one long Thanksgiving dinner full of drama and revealed secrets, while the second act skips through the following years. Throughout the two-hour run time, the play examines issues relating to the treatment of Indigenous people, Native storytelling traditions, the lingering effects of intergenerational trauma, homosexuality, family secrets, addiction, violence, colonialism and more—a lot to swallow, indeed. Thanks for Giving is at its best when showing small, relatable family interactions, especially involving the stellar Margo Kane, whose deadpan delivery garners huge laughs, and her on-stage husband, Tom McBeath. But the play falters when it veers into lecture territory, in particular one long diatribe delivered by Tai Amy Grauman over the dinner table, which feels like it was lifted directly from a university textbook. Despite these flaws, the play is such an enjoyable meal overall that it might even be worth a second helping.

Margo Kane and Tom McBeath in Thanks for Giving. Photo by Emily Cooper.

The world premiere of Thanks for Giving runs until Nov. 4 on the Granville Island Stage.

Stand-up city

web Bob Marleyweb JulieKimweb Dave HemstadThe Halifax Comedy Fest returns this month for its 21st year, showcasing top international comics alongside East Coast up-and-comers. From April 27 to 30, some 30 comedians will perform 14 shows at venues around the city.

Returning for his third appearance at the festival is Bob Marley. With a wry take on daily life, Marley is always a fan favourite. He hosts the All Star Show on April 28 at Casino Nova Scotia and performs at the Gala of Laughs on April 29 at the Spatz Theatre.

This year sees the return of another long-time favourite, as Rich Hall comes back to Halifax’s stages for the first time since 2007.

Rich Hall, along with his trademark sour expression and cantankerous gravelly voice, appears at the All Star Show on April 28 at Casino Nova Scotia and the Gala of Laughs Finale on April 30 at the Spatz Theatre.

Also on the calendar is two-time Canadian Comedy Award nominee Julie Kim. She’s a mainstay of the country’s stand-up circuit, appearing on national TV and radio, and plays shows from coast to coast. She performs at the Opening Gala, Laugh@Lunch, and Gala of Laughs.

Local fans are also excited to see emerging star Aisha Alfa at this year’s festival. Born in Nigeria and raised in Canada, she won Winnipeg’s Funniest Person with a Day Job, was a finalist for NBC’s Stand Up for Diversity, was one of the first Toronto Bob Curry Fellowship recipients from Second City, and was regional finalist for SiriusXM’s Canada’s Next Top Comic. Her TV appearances include The Second City Project, Superchanel’s Too Much Information, MTV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation, and the Emmy Award winning Odd Squad on PBS. She also co-hosted on Much Music’s Video on Trial.

This Hour Has 22 Minutes veterans Mark Critch and Cathy Jones—local favourites—along with Elvira Kurt, Tim Steeves, Trent McClellan, Chuck Byrn, John Sheehan, Erin Foley, Caitlin Langelier, Marito Lopez, Adrian Cronk, Chris James, John Cullen, Mayce Galoni, Graham Kay, Ivan Decker, Rob Bebenek, Jean Paul, Michelle Shaughnessy, and Nathan Macintosh.

Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street hosts the Opening Gala on April 27 and All Star Show on April 28, while the Spatz Theatre at Citadel High School on Bell Road is home to the Gala of Laughs on Friday, April 29 and Gala of Laughs Finale on April 30. The Lower Deck Pub in the Historic Properties hosts a double feature of matinee shows on April 30.

The festival also includes two nightly Not Made for TV shows at Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel on Hollis Street from April 28 to 30. You can also sample the comedy with a free Laugh@Lunch show at the Halifax Central Libraryon April 29.

 

For tickets and schedule information, surf to halifaxcomedyfest.ca.