Photo by Don Kellogg

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Promise

When someone penned the phrase “Tour de Force” they must have been watching Joanna Tope. Taking on Douglas Maxwell’s one character play, The Promise, Ms. Tope (Maggie Brodie), sweeps the audience out of the theatre and into her classroom as she weaves the tale of her her own life with the events that took place in a classroom she recently returned to as a substitute teacher.

In a brief 90 minutes she carefully and methodically lets us into her life, telling us choice bits and pieces of her youth, family life, teaching career and her staunch character. As the tale of her recent experience in the classroom unfolds, so do more and more facts about her. In the end, we’ve traversed politics, religion, gender rights, human rights, and race. Without saying anything explicitly, Maxwell brilliantly leaves the audience with just enough information on all fronts to form any number of opinions about Maggie – good, bad, and otherwise.

While not a psychological thriller – the performance transports you to another time and place as Ms. Tope grabs you tight and doesn’t let go until the very last word.