Glory at Drayton Entertainment
As an American visitor to Canada and an inveterate theatergoer, I take great pleasure in seeing plays and visiting theaters that few visitors manage to discover. In the process, I often see plays that don’t seem to have any real equivalents south of the border. (No, not that border!)
A case in point is Glory, a joyous depiction of the early days of women’s hockey in Canada by Tracey Power, who also doubles as choreographer. I caught the show, presented by Drayton Entertainment, in its waning days at the Hamilton Family Theatre in Cambridge, Ontario, about an hour’s drive from Stratford.
The play, which began its life at the Western Canada Theatre in Alberta, tells the true story of the Preston Rivulettes, a team of plucky young women who refused to believe that “women don’t play hockey” and who went on to regional and then national acclaim in the 1930s.
Power based her play on the lives of actual Rivulettes and their coach using their real names (the pronunciation of the surnames of the Schmuck sisters and coach Fach provides one of the show’s many laugh lines).
The basic story is predictable enough, verging on cliché – initial skepticism on the part of their reluctant coach, predictable struggles against tough odds, tension among teammates. But Power stirs in themes of Canadian anti-Semitism in the lead up to World War II. There’s a lesbian crush that is so understated that I suspect many audience members never notice, but it’s beautifully done and I found it most touching.
Yes, it can get a bit preachy at times, but Power, along with her engaging cast, brings such freshness to the tale that only the most determinedly critical will find fault.
James MacDonald (who directed a splendid Julius Caesar at the Stratford Festival in 2009) works wonders with his cast of five and Power more than earns her choreographer credit with the imaginative way in which she sketches in the agonies and ecstasies of fast-paced hockey games.
It’s hard to single out actors here so I’ll just list them: Kate Dion-Richard, Katie Ryerson, Advah Soudack, Andrew Wheeler, and Morgan Yamada.
Although Glory has closed in Cambridge, it can still be seen at other Drayton Entertainment venues. It will be at the Huron Country Playhouse II in Grand Bend, Ontario, from June 12 to June 22; at the King’s Wharf Theatre in Penetanguishene, Ontario, from June 26 to July 6; and at the Drayton Festival Theatre in Drayton, Ontario, from July 10 to July 20.