— Patricia Cano in The (Post) Mistress at Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre. Photo by Tenille Campbe
THE (POST) MISTRESS
(This is Lindsay Lachance's review of the 2016 Arts Club production).
Tomson Highway’s The (Post) Mistress, starring Patricia Cano and directed by John Cooper, is set in a heavenly picturesque post office in Lovely, Ontario. The audience follows Marie-Louise Painchaud through her daily routine as the town’s post-mistress.
Patricia Cano runs this one-woman musical performance with humour, grace, excellent timing and beautiful vocals. Cano does an absolutely flawless job at bringing the audience up to date with the latest and hottest gossip circulating in her letters. Every time she picks up a new letter to sort, the audience learns about the lives of Yvette Paquette and her BIG hair, or the adventures of the Tremblay Brothers through song and dance.
Director John Cooper has Marie-Louise Painchaud conquering the stage as a proud small-town Franco-Ontarian mother of 5, but also as an outstanding cabaret performer. The post office is set on a thrust stage with tables making up half the seating in cabaret bar style. This allows Cano to really engage with the audience in a fun and interactive way. She is so entertaining and inviting that no matter which language she’s singing in—English, French, or Cree—you’re swaying or humming along with the beat!
Musical director Bill Sample plays the piano onstage with Bill Runge on the saxophone and flute. With only two musicians and one performer the audience receives over a dozen genres of musical performance from sexy cabaret, to happy sing-along style songs, to jazz-inspired beats and so much more. There are subtitles projected up center stage, in case you’re so inclined to sing along…
Although it is unlike Highway’s The Rez Sisters or Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, both having more than ten characters, The (Post) Mistress introduces us to just as many characters only through song, dance and reading other people’s mail. This performance is truly, lovely. It embodies a very Canadian hometown style, with a real angel of a woman sharing the town’s stories.