I went to a kids’ play today. One of my pals wears many dramatic hats. One of them is as a playwright/puppet god. Let me clarify, he’s not a puppet, but he builds them from scratch. I don’t know if they worship him, but they probably should. He’s that proficient. The play was called Princess Knight. If you’re in Toronto, enjoy theatre, have kids and/or are somehow a ghoul in thrall to my every command, go see it. It was a truly superb experience. Now, it’s not my first experience with children’s theatre. I used to act in local community plays. In my 20s, friends and I would often laugh our way through kids’ shows, mocking how bad the kids acted. It was a time.
The difference today was I went with a friend and her son. I had an actual child with us and it kinda helped to see it through his eyes. Let’s be clear, I enjoyed the play regardless, but understanding his perspective a little better lifted the experience. It was neat to see what lit him up (fart jokes, obviously. Silly names), ’cause it was so removed from how I normally engage with shows (except for the potty humour. That’s not going away any time soon). It was cool seeing how shy he got when the actors offered a Q&A at the end, or showed the kids all the props. It reminded me of being that young, before I’d heard the word “cynical”. When the world was a sensory explosion at every step. When I could count on one hand the plays I’d watched, where the scale seemed so much greater. I felt the same way about community plays as I’d probably now feel about large scale concerts. They felt larger than life and I got transported with them. I wasn’t thinking about the layers or themes, I was just along for the ride. Stories at their purest form.
It’s been winter for what feels like a decade. In reality, January wasn’t that bad. I’ve been through a cluster of Toronto winters now and the novelty has pretty much fallen away. Still though, there was this nice moment today that stuck with me. It was a clear day and it’d warmed from around -11 to 3 above. The footpaths I walked across were near endless lines of locals getting out to shovel. Everyone was in pleasant spirits, taking advantage of the slushiness that simplified the job. People were chipper, smiling and chatting. A diverse range of people, all smiling and getting down to business. It was like a community. It made me feel like joining in the action. I looked at our footpath and I probably could’ve gotten away with doing nothing. Instead I fetched the shovel and left a respectable looking footpath for anyone passing by.
We watched I, Tonya tonight. Spoilers likely to follow.
The movie was medium at best. Maybe a B/10? It seemed like needless Oscar bait. Margot Robbie was pretty decent, Allison Janney was outstanding (not like that’s out of the norm). It had its moments. The first third was tight, then it seemed to hit a wall. The pacing slowed and it all felt tedious. It was flippant and trashy, which I’m not putting out as detractors. It was fun how they played with the fourth wall. It just sort of felt like it was flashy without being fleshed out. There wasn’t a ton of substance. They didn’t shy away from the systematic abuse she was put through (though at times it took on an almost alarmingly slapstick tone). My issue was more that with all the polish, dynamic shots and Rashomon narrative style, it still felt kind of stock and laid it on way too thick. C’mon, “Spirit in the Sky”? Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”? Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger”? Nothing stood out as exemplary enough for the film to be considered Best Picture material. Certainly entertaining, but nothing that’ll be remembered in two years. Remember when the category only had four films? Let’s bring that back.
Or like, nominate my friend’s play for one. I dunno.