Review: A Few Brittle Leaves (The Cabaret Company)

A Few Brittle Leaves

In A Few Brittle Leaves, the women are men, the men are gay, and for this straight, female theatre reviewer, the play’s self-proclaimed exploration of aging gracefully is just as important as the question: how the heck do those guys do it?

Gavin Crawford of This Hour has 22 Minutes fame plays Viola Pie, the straight-laced half of two spinster sisters living in the classical, English town of Upsydownsyshire. Crawford’s portrayal is absolutely straight and totally real. If I hadn’t known who was who, seriously, I would have thought the woman on stage was female.

But I did know, which makes Crawford’s role all the more intriguing. You wonder what’s going on in his head as he plays the part of, well, potentially me.

At the other extreme is Edward Roy’s campy Penny Pie, Viola’s over-the-top sister. With too much lipstick and bright, flashy clothing, Penny is both hilarious and sad.

Few of us want to age, and for some that’s harder than others. Which is the heart of this new play by Sky Gilbert. What do we do with life as we age? Gilbert in a recent interview says: “How do you dress…? How do you act? What if you want to show some flesh or wear trendy clothes? Is that over? What if you want to go dancing, get drunk and dance up a storm — should you do that if you are old?”

Putting men in dresses makes that exploration all the more interesting. As does plotting a 50 year-old old aunt against a niece half her age for the attention of the shire’s new vicar Mr. Gupta (Zahir Gilani). Stay tuned for the thud – familiar to many women – when Mr. Gupta makes his big reveal.

Coincidentally, Hadley Freeman’s Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies was released the same day A Few Brittle Leaves opened in Toronto. Have a listen to Chapter 11 – Gilbert has definitely struck a chord. Don’t miss it.




Photo: Sydney Helland