— Production photo
FOR THE PLEASURE OF SEEING HER AGAIN
The Narrator (Kevin Loring) in Gateway Theatre’s production of For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again notifies the audience that his mother, Nana (Margo Kane), is a woman that we will all recognize in some way or another. We’re told that we might have met her before, that she’s universal and she’s seen everywhere -- she’s “that mom.” From that moment on, I acknowledge that this performance is not intending to provide a Michel Tremblay piece with a “Native Twist” nor are the performance aesthetics going to provide semiotic or symbolic images of Aboriginality.
Kevin Loring (N’lakap’amux) and Margo Kane (Cree/Saulteaux) deliver an exceptionally funny, loving, and charismatic performance of Tremblay’s For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again. As in all of Tremblay’s works, this piece is somewhat autobiographical and influenced by his Montreal upbringing by his mother, aunties, and neighbours. What sets this play apart from the others is that here he reveals his mother’s Cree heritage. Tremblay, one of Quebec’s best known and most influential playwrights, shares that his mother is Plains Cree. Ironically, this is revealed during a discussion on what it means to have “Blue Blood,” and how the Good Lord couldn’t allocate noble blue blood to Cree peoples because he just didn’t know that they existed.
The set design does not include any explicit visual reference to Cree culture, and the sound design consists of violin and piano scores either upbeat or slow and dream-like, depending on the dialogue it accompanies. It isn’t until the end of the performance, when a canoe is summoned by the Narrator and Nana is put in a white fringed poncho, that I saw an attempt to manifest her identity as a Cree woman. As an Anishinaabe woman, I couldn’t help but think that a canoe would probably really facilitate my journey into the spirit world—plus no one could ever say, “ You’ll be up shits creek without a paddle” ever again!
Ultimately, Kane and Loring’s performances are energetic, inviting, sentimental and hilarious. Their bodies tell stories of familial love, community and aging in entertaining and powerful ways that do not rely on visual Indigenous aesthetics as aids. Instead, we as spectators are gifted with witnessing an amazingly talented duo practicing their craft in a flawless manner.