Attention future Ottawa mayors: beware the Wrecking Ball.
Stingingly sarcastic theatre about the upcoming mayoral election smashed through pretension and stereotype on Monday night at the Royal Canadian Legion on Kent Street.
A one-night-only show featuring short skits and songs on political topics, the Wrecking Ball started in Toronto in 2004 on the premise that there was “too much theatre in our politics, not enough politics in our theatre,” according to organizer Judi Pearl. Monday was Ottawa’s third Wrecking Ball since 2008.
Local actress Tania Levy re-wrote and performed The Little Engine that Could. In her version, the little engine chugs through modern-day Ottawa, making fun of transit and light rail at every turn. At one point, the little engine “couldn’t move any further because she’d run out of track. Usable track, that is. She could in theory go into Gatineau across the bridge but the STO doesn’t want the O-train on its turf because that would make too much sense to everyone.”
A crowd of about 60 packed the bar at the Legion. Laughter and applause heartily greeted the performers throughout the evening.
“I thought it was fantastic,” audience member Chantal Sundaran said after the show. “Elections don’t always engage people in every aspect of their ordinary lives.” She said she wanted more. “It shouldn’t just happen around election time,” she said.
The most riotous cheers went to Todd Duckworth, who rewrote and sang the 1966 song “Love me, I’m a liberal” by Paul Ochs. Not concentrating on the municipal election, Duckworth simply poked fun at the stereotype of the modern liberal. “My heart breaks for all abused women, just don’t put the shelter next door, so love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal,” he sang.
Pierre Brault imitated a whole range of public figures. As a CBC Radio host nicknamed “Kathleen Show-No-Pity Petty,” he pretended to visit candidate Larry O’Brien’s headquarters. “I’m here at the O’Brien camp and the mood can only be described as electric — about as electric as a triple-A battery in a lighthouse,” he said.
In Petty mode, Brault reported that O’Brien admitted “that his first two years in office were a disaster, but he’s apologized for the hurt he’s inflicted and says he can do better. In politics we term this as the ‘abusive husband’ approach.”
Dennis Van Staalduinen led the whole crowd through a chorus of “Larry won’t you go, Larry won’t you go, Larry won’t you please please go-oh-oh” to the tune of “I’ve been working on the railroad.”
As for portrayals of front runner Jim Watson, performers generally made him out as being boring and overly polite.
The night concluded with a raucous reality TV skit called “The Dating Game” where contestant Alix Sideris had to choose between three bachelors: Jim Watson, Larry O’Brien, and Clive Doucet. “We turned away 17 others because we really didn’t think they had a chance anyway,” said the host of the show.
Entry to the event was by donation with all proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders and the Actors’ Fund of Canada.