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THUNDER BAY, ON ----   January 31, 2013  ---  I have been savouring last Friday’s gala performance of “Café Daughter” Paula - Jean Prudatfor a few days now and it is time to write the review.

This Gwaandak Theatre Production now on stage at Magnus has grown on me.
Single actor plays often cause me problems since the actor is portraying a wide range of characters, but I found that that was not the case in this play. For a start the number of characters played by Paula- Jean Prudat is limited. They are not masked by accents and I found her speaking voice clearly carried through the theatre. Speaking clearly and being clearly understood make any conversation much more enjoyable.

In her role as “Yvette”, Prudat has a story to be told. I found the story soon captivated my interest and as the play progressed the honesty of the story became more evident. The story of Yvette is an exceptional one in that she is a half breed child who overcame her difficulties and succeeded in becoming a doctor.

Teenage years are often trying times , they have to find their place in the world and often it is a cruel world. Stereotyping and outright racism are strong elements in Yvette’s story. With a father of Chinese descent, and a native mother who did her best to live as a white person, Yvette grew up deliberately avoiding her native heritage. Having to keep this secret from her school mates Yvette responded to a drinking father at home by immersing herself in her studies. She would stay in the library after class studying mathematic, and when she returned home much of her time was also spend studying. Studying allowed her to escape the pain of her mother’s early death when she was younger, studying allowed her to focus on mathematics and avoid the father who increasingly turned to drink to help ease the pain of his wife’s loss.

As the story develops Yvette encounters her mother’s sister and she begins to connect with her native side. At the same time this connection is discovered by her school teacher, and the face of racism threatens to stop her from ever getting to University. Meanwhile her father has plans for Yvette. He longs to return to China, and find a rich husband for his daughter Yvette, who will care for both her and himself as he becomes older.

Fortunately for Yvette all that studying paid off, despite her father’s desire to return to China, she manages to get accepted with a forged parental signature on the application form. For the second time in her life she is offered the valedictorian’s address and she did not have to think about what she would say.

This is a very strong story. I suspect that there is more than an element of truth to it, Kenneth Williams is a great playwright. Story telling is still an important part of aboriginal culture and the move to theatre seems to be a natural one. For whatever reason some of the best plays produced in this country come from the pens of native playwrights.

This is a good play, the production is excellent. While there is only one actress on stage she has the support of a full artistic team backing her up through the play. The story is a great one, Prudat delivers the story in an easily heard, clearly understood voice. The honesty of humanity comes shining through. Go you will enjoy it. The play runs until February 9th. Call the box office at 345 -5552 for tickets and information.


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