Monday, 30 April 2018

Gertrude and Alice by Anna Chatterton and Evalyn Parry | Play Review

Book: Gertrude and Alice

Authors: Anna Chatterton, Evalyn Parry, with Karin Randoja

Publisher: Playwrights Canada Press

Pages: 88 Pages

Format: Paperback

Source: Sent to me for review from PCP

This was sent to me by Playwrights Canada Press in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much, PCP!

To learn more about the presentation of 'Gertrude and Alice', check out the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Company Website here.

A new work from the acclaimed feminist theatre collective Independent Aunties exploring the lives, love, and legacy of queer icons Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

Visiting the audience in the present day, Gertrude and Alice come to find out how history has treated them. The couple recounts stories of their forty-year relationship; of meetings with iconic artists and writers; and of Alice’s overwhelming, consuming devotion to Gertrude’s genius. Before they leave, they want to find out what has become of their artistic and cultural influence, and how their lives and work are—or are not—remembered.

If there's one thing that can immediately grab my attention, it's anything involving the Lost Generation. There's something about those American Expats in Paris that just grabs onto me and won't let go. So when I saw this on the Playwrights Canada Press website, I knew that I needed it. It was almost a guttural response. Gertrude Stein, the woman who invented the term 'Lost Generation', and Alice B. Toklas, one of the most loyal partners in history? A play about the best art parents ever? Yes. Please. And I'm so thrilled that it surpassed even my highest expectations.

Gertrude and Alice perfectly blended original text with the actual words of the actual people. In the play text, the italicized words are ones that Gertrude and Alice actually said, whether it be in letters or elsewhere. I was so fascinated that the playwrights pulled in all of these historical elements, and really centered these women and the interpretation of them around their own words. It gave the play a startling sense of intimacy, and I can only imagine how incredible it must be to see it performed live. 

The writing, and the integration of Gertrude and Alice's words, was stellar, because it pushed along a narrative that wasn't really there. The entire play is just that these two women have showed up in modern day, and are talking to the audience. It's quite simple, really. But at the end of the play, looking back at how much you've learned, how much has been done and said, I felt like I had gone on a true adventure. That I had learned more about Alice and Gertrude as people than any history book or biography could teach me. Because I could picture them interacting, and just being in the presence of one another. 

I also loved reading the conversations between the two about their art collection. Their collection, and their Salon nights are my favourite facts about these two women, and getting to hear more about it, and hearing about Gertrude and Picasso's relationship was so fascinating. When reading about their friendship in a biography or a history book, you don't get the same emotion or the level of passion as you get in this play. We really get to see Gertrude's true colours here, and it makes their relationship much more dynamic and colourful in my mind.

But that can be said about the whole play. These two women, these spectacular women, are now much more dynamic and alive in my mind. They are living breathing figures, where in the past they've been stationary, semi stuck in the past. I loved getting to read about these two women, and now I'm desperate to actually see this up on a stage.

5/5 Stars. If you're at all interested in this generation, art, or just good theatre, pick this up!

Happy Reading!

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