Photo by Andrew Eccles,
via Stratford Shakespeare Festival
I was very fortunate this week to see Christopher Plummer at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, in his one-man show, A Word or Two. It's in previews now, opening next week -- and the entire run is nearly sold out already!
For good reason: this show is fantastic. It's a tour de force, a bravura performance, a signature piece that dazzles and amuses. I hope that is enough over the top gushing to convince you to look into any remaining availability if you're anywhere near Stratford.
The premise of the approximately hour and a half show is Christopher Plummer sharing the trajectory of his life with us, through the lens of the literature that has shaped him. He shares excerpts of works by A.A. Milne, Stephen Leacock, Archibald Macleish, the Bible, Oscar Wilde, and much more, interspersed with tales of his life. The fantastic thing is, of course, that he is using various accents, gestures and movements to express each one and it feels as if he's performing a lightning-speed sample of everything that he is capable of doing.....which is a whole lot! There is also a lot of humour in the excerpts he reads and in his own life stories, making the show fly by. I really liked the structure of the show -- from childhood to the present, it was neatly segmented to hold the audience's attention and also signal how far along we were in the tale.
As a literary person myself, I enjoyed catching the references to various authors, and hearing how they shaped and affected Plummer throughout his life. I also enjoyed his stories of growing up in Montreal, as I spent many years living there. It all comes together into a marvellous show, one that I would definitely see again if it were actually possible ;) He mesmerizes the audience with his lengthy, energetic monologue -- literally, as I didn't move for the entire show and felt it when we all jumped up for an ovation!
It was a lovely reflection on the power of literature and of words themselves to inspire and inform and shape one's life. Poems and prose read out and/or declaimed by Plummer were wonderful to listen to -- that voice! It encouraged me to reflect on the writers and works that have affected me over my own lengthy reading life, as well as inspire me to revisit some authors I'd forgotten (Archibald Macleish, for example). I had a great time at this show -- it was entertaining, fascinating, stimulating and enlivening.
Very highly recommended -- I hope that he will indeed take this show to the West Coast and to Broadway as it's been rumoured he might -- and I also hope that it will be filmed so that there can be a wider audience. This is too good to miss.