Toronto
1 min

The mother of all mysteries

Ed Roy's play has many layers, fewer rewards

HER HEART GOES ON... AND ON. Greg Campbell gives an amazing performance as a vivacious drag queen in The Mother's Saint. Photo by Greg Tjepkema. Credit: Xtra files

Not even 10 minutes into the show and the character of Monique Dupuis struts in full drag regalia to sit on my lap, a blinding spot light overhead. With an arm around me, she rants about her longing to steal me away to the tropics. Then, looking down between my legs, she assures me that she could get plenty of mileage out of my “king-sized” dick.



Let me assure everyone that this review will not be easily affected by such praise.



With that said, The Mother’s Saint is a fun and intriguing play containing all the joys of a good murder mystery and a spectacular performance by Greg Campbell as Monique Dupuis. Though a few of her jokes fall flat, her presence adds just enough flare and humour to this play to prevent it from getting too brooding.



In fact, the performances keep this play rumbling along. Steve Cumyn and Terrance Bryant should also be noted for their thespian contributions.



The story, written and directed by Ed Roy, is well constructed and fresh. The Mother’s Saint is presented as a kind of puzzle for us to piece together. Part of the pleasure comes from the secret histories we discover about a little girl, her future son and an eclectic mix of Montrealers.



It all begins when a dead man is found the night of Montreal’s ice storm of 1998.



Robert Fleming (Cumyn) finds himself in the police station as a possible suspect. Through flashbacks and interrogations we learn about the love-hate relationship between a vivacious drag queen and her downtrodden lover, Randal (Bryant). We learn about a young girl who feels drawn to bright visions of the Virgin Mary during her stay in a notorious Duplessis-era orphanage. And we learn about Fleming’s quest to uncover the history of his troubled and doomed family.



But The Mother’s Saint has its flaws. It fails to end with the sparkle and drama that has been building throughout the play. The momentum gets lost in the last act (the production clocks in at around 2 1/2 hours). There’s no climax; the play just ends.



By layering so many mysteries, some things remain unknown, particularly the character of Madeleine. More needs to be said about her real or imagined visions of the Virgin Mary.



Despite these reservations, The Mother’s Saint exceeds in its ability to draw the audience into the twists and turns of a well-told story.