Actions Speak Louder Than Words
For most of us, itâ€™s difficult to say whatâ€™s a more frightening prospectâ€”crossing an ocean to lock oneâ€™s self into an arranged marriage or escaping to 1882 Winnipeg in search of all that makes the heart go pitter patter. It really is six of one and half a dozen of the other, isnâ€™t it?
For Belle (Ginette Mohr), itâ€™s the idea of entering into passionless wedlock for eternity that makes her weak in the knees. And as for Winnipeg, heck, she reckons there are likely a few eligible bachelors roaming The Red Lady Saloon that could generate that illusive spark she so desperately seeks.
Keystone Theatreâ€™s salute to the art of silent film feels like real the thing. Harnessing physical theatre like a wild thoroughbred, the production forges a unique stage experience accented by flickering image projections and the odd burst of written dialogue to navigate the storyline.
Itâ€™s almost as if the company set out to prove that actions speak louder than words with a low budget, motion infused farce that boasts high end innovation due to smart composition and fluid scene transitions.
Whatâ€™s most admirable about The Belle of Winnipeg is that it doesnâ€™t echo with any of the Charlie Chaplin or Fatty Arbuckle hallmarks of the pre-talkie era. Faces painted cigarette white embrace the silent film aesthetic yet itâ€™s the nostalgically rich ambiance prevailing in the piece thatâ€™s worth the price of admission.
Lip smacking highlights include female lead Ginette Mohrâ€™s on the prowl Belle who promisingly pairs up with Adam Bradleyâ€™s here-to-save-the-day Hero. And with piano man David Atkinsonâ€™s flaming fingers striking each key like theyâ€™re the last songs heâ€™ll ever churn out, itâ€™s hard to imagine the show doing anything better.
Donâ€™t forget, only once in a long spell does a creation come along capable of snubbing conventional theatre. Hurray for grassroots art, Keystone Theatre knows how to seed the foundation.
Review by Steven Berketo