Shrug! Trudeau Stories at the Centaur until June 6.

By Alidor Aucoin on May 12, 2010

Keep  a diary long enough,  no matter how inconsequential,  and  it  might  end up keeping you. 

Brooke Johnson met Pierre Trudeau at a dance at the National Theatre School in 1985 when she was a 23-year- old  aspiring actress.  He danced with her, took her out for a drinks a few times, invited her for a walk in the country, (“Which country? “ She asks), and gave her a tour of his mansion on Pine Ave.,  then appears to have lost interest  in her.   All this rates a mention of her in the second volume of the John English biography of  Trudeau.  Johnson emerges as one of the few impressionable starlets  the aging statesman didn’t seduce.  Now she has  capitalized  on her  platonic infatuation with  a man who was then three times her age by turning her journal , the letters and poems  they  exchanged, and even his answering machine messages  into a mildly diverting one-woman show, Trudeau Stories.

 The trick, of course, is to make their escapades memorable. But  apart  from the  awkward moment when they meet, and she describes how she dances with him in a pair of borrowed shoes stuffed with toilet paper, this is thin going.

Trudeau Stories  isn’t  written,  - it’s been strung together.  Anecdotes  about  their half-hearted fling  don’t   really add up to anything.  She paddles a canoe with him, they shop together at Birks, she writes him an impassioned letter about the Free Trade debate. She discovers he doesn’t read all that much.   Trudeau remains elusive, uncommunicative, more interested in learning about her than in revealing much about himself.   At one point, talking about a meeting of heads of state in South Africa, he tells her, “we talk about current issues in the world and come up with solutions. …it’s always nice to travel.”

 When she asks  “How was Russia?”  he replies, “Russia is Russia.” The show evaporates  as Johnson  tearfully  talks about her impressions of standing with the crowd outside Notre Dame Basilica at  Trudeau’s funeral.

The production is simply staged. There’s a chair, a hassock for props, and Lindsay -Anne Black has painted the floor to resemble the art deco floor in Trudeau’s house.  Director  Allyson McMackin has Johnson flit  around the perimeter of the stage, and as pleasant, sweet , disarming and sentimental as she is, it’s not enough to sustain an entire evening. 

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