It is time to button up and wave the flag at the Grand Theatre.
The excellent production of The Colony Of Unrequited Dreams on the Spriet Stage is supported off-stage by my all-time favourite Grand promotion. It offers fans two free buttons for their sporting pleasure. One, emblazoned with the official 1980 Christopher Pratt-designed flag of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the other sporting an unofficial banner, the tricolour flag with origins in the 19th-century known as the Pink, White, and Green (PWG).
The Grand is giving these beautiful buttons away. Giving them away.
On opening night, there were buttons left out and about, just waiting to be scooped up. I can be sure at least one person took advantage of the unique promotion to scoop up more than his share (*wink). I know many others did too but you can track me down and, okay, I’ll share.
Oh right. The play is on, too!
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Artistic Fraud is back at the Grand for COUD, based on the bestselling novel by Wayne Johnston. It was adapted by Robert Chafe, and directed by Jillian Keiley, who last teamed up at the Grand for the magnificent Oil And Water.
Like that production, which was set during the Second World War, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams dramatizes 20th-century Newfoundland history. Future premier Joey Smallwood (played by Colin Furlong, who is sensational) stars as he steers the Dominion of Newfoundland into union with Canada over action spanning three acts and more than two decades.
This play is the birth of a nation epic but also is also the death of a nation tragedy as Newfoundland surrenders its dreams of independence by joining Canada. On opening night, Wayne Johnston wore his “republican” PWG button with the pink (or rose) at the left. Johnston said he did that because the flag is known as the Pink, White, and Green, even if green is actually the “hoist” side. Others in the Colony party had their unofficial flag buttons worn in the “official” green way.
Chafe’s adaptation matches Smallwood with a fictional character, newspaper columnist Sheilagh Fielding (played by Statford’s Carmen Grant). The character has an early jest at Smallwood’s expense which is a guaranteed laugh-getter. This ongoing battle of wits continues as the only way they seem able to express their unrequited love.
In the Chafe and Johnston telling, Smallman is a smallish titan in love with a big country… and with a tall woman.
No prizes for guessing which big love is requited. Especially not if you know the history Newfoundland and Canada share.
Back to the buttons though, seriously.
Not sure how the fast the buttons are flying out the door? You better get to the Grand and flag down that promo or suffer some FOMO.
The Colony Of Unrequited Dreams continues on the Grand’s Spriet Stage until April 8. Visit grandtheatre.com for the good news at 471 Richmond St.
James Stewart Reaney keeps James’s Brander Newer Blogger at LondonFuse.ca as part of his volunteerism and reverence for London A&E. He recently retired from The London Free Press after more than 30 years covering everything from A — The Alcohollys — to B: baseball’s 1986 World Series. Follow his Twitter #ldnont thoughts via @JamesSReaney