Friday, July 27, 2012

A Word or Two with Christopher Plummer

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.


  1. I must concur with your review of Christopher Plummer's "A Word of Two" as last night's performance still resounds in my heart. Perhaps because the evening ended with Plummer's examination of death in others' words I am stricken to think that this great orator and this work may be his swan song and that saddens me.

  2. The show sounds amazing. I would love to see it some time (would likely have to be on dvd).

    I have loved Christopher Plummer since I decided that I should marry him at age 5 when I started loving the Sound of Music. :)

  3. Wow, never even heard of this! It sounds fantastic - I, too, fell in love with Plummer via The Sound of Music :-)

  4. Helen - thankyou for commenting - I agree, it's a very moving conclusion, and does make you think of the fleeting nature of life. Such a powerful piece!

    Dixie - oh, you'd love it. I do hope that there is a permanent version someday

    Aarti - it's one of the benefits of living in such a theatre town -- amazing performances are a treat!

  5. Now I'm jealous!

    And apparently I'm not the only who developed a crush on the man after watching "The Sound of Music". The bonus being that he's Canadian!

  6. Oh, I envy you. I heard about this performance, on CBC radio, and I would have loved to see this. I'm a great fan of Christopher Plummer [wasn't he just incredible as Tolstoy?]... and -- his voice.
    His voice is something I could listen to, all day long.
    I've only been to Stratford once, years ago. The town is so quaint -- stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast place. And the swans in the river, so gorgeous. Wish I was there for this.

  7. I was in Stratford on Avon in mid-July; it was a wonderful experience, and I so enjoyed hearing Christopher Plummer's name come up in the Studio theater (where there were posters of him as well) which I'm sure you know.

    It would have been such a marvelous experience to see him in this production! I heard he was a difficult man to work with, but his perfection made him so very talented, and I'm sure that the way he wove literature in with his life stories would have been unforgettable.

    Lucky you!


  8. Just a smiling visitor here to share the love

  9. thanks for sharing.

  10. duckthief - I know! That Captain Von Trapp... ;)

    sassymonkey - hopefully it'll be on film eventually....

    Cip - his voice is something else! Maybe you'll come back to Stratford someday??

    Bellezza - how neat! It was a rather stunning show -- his perfection is really polished :)


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