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Sunday, May 03, 2015

Northern Light Theatre explores Gender Identity with Christina/Philippe

Friday night I took in the Opening Night of Christina/Philippe presented by Northern Light Theatre. It's really a collage piece about gender identity with song, and recorded interviews, interspered with parts of the text from the play Christina/Philippe. It was a conversation provoking evening of theatre which lead me to have several discussions about gender identity with people that I saw the play with. We talked about how we knew who we were, about people we knew and what their experiences with gender identification were, as well as current events - from bathrooms, to medical coverage, to pronouns.

It's also quite gorgeous in sight and sound.  Both Christina (Kristi Hansen) and Philippe (Trevor Schmidt) have layered, tune-full voices that served the atmospheric songs well. They also play off each other well - Hansen is brash and intimidating, Schmidt is a bit softer with a subtle sense of humour. The set (Adam Tsuyoshi Turnbull) is rich with colour and it's circles reflect the theme of shifting gender. The costumes (Trevor Schmidt) are similarly lush and both feminine and masculine with leather and brocade and sparkle. It was clear that there was real collaboration in building the piece.  I would love to spend a bit of time just listening to the recordings of real people that were interwoven throughout.

I will say, there is an abruptness to the end of the show, that catches you a bit off guard. I wanted to know a bit more about both Queen Christina and Philippe, duc d'Orleans and how they lived in their worlds.  I think that, however, part of that sharp stop is supposed to lead you in to talking more after you leave. It was, as I said, fascinating. If one of the goals of theatre is to provoke discussion, this one certainly does.

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