Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A mighty voice, barely heard

Almighty Voice and His Wife, a compelling piece of theatre playing in Winnipeg, lacks only one thing: a good-sized audience.

It’s a double retelling of the story of Almighty Voice, an Aboriginal man killed in 1897 by the Northwest Mounted Police in Saskatchewan. His original offence: Killing a cow owned by the government.

The first act tells the story conventionally, ending with the death of Almighty Voice.

The second act imagines Almighty Voice and his wife as characters in a Victorian entertainment, tormenting each other while singing and dancing their hearts out but ultimately unable to escape their original story.

Derek Garza as Almighty Voice and P.J. Prudat as White Girl inhabit the characters brilliantly, particularly when they don whiteface for the second act.

The play, written by Daniel David Moses and directed by Michael Greyeyes, is serious but not depressing. There are liberal doses of the sidesplitting humour and wordplay that characterize much Aboriginal drama. Think of the possible meanings of Chief Magistrate, for example.

Oh yes, there’s sex, too.

What a shame, then, that many of the seats in the Rachel Browne Theatre in downtown Winnipeg were empty at the Sunday matinee that I attended.

Get your tickets from Theatre Projects Manitoba for $20, less for students.

Almighty Voice and His Wife plays in Winnipeg until Nov. 14 and in the J.R.C. Evans Theatre at Brandon University on Nov. 17 and 18.