Reviews: 1837: The Farmers’ Revolt – Shaw Festival
★ ★ ★ /4 Toronto Star Carly Maga
1837: The Farmers’ Revolt, written by Rick Salutin and Theatre Passe Muraille in 1973, is a vestige of the Canadian theatre movement of the 1970s—a time when dominant plays from the U.S. and Britain were being countered with fiercely patriotic stories about Canadian lives.
With the subject matter and collective structure (many characters appear through monologues, short scenes, and group songs), the play has found a life in high school productions, but in the professional theatre world, it took an outsider — the new Shaw artistic director, Tim Carroll (a Brit, no less) — to introduce 1837 to a new generation of theatregoers, and reintroduce it to those who caught its premiere.
Toronto Star link
★ ★ ★.5 /4 Globe and Mail J. Kelly Nestruck
There’s not a weak link in the cast assembled at Shaw: Sharry Flett, a festival veteran now in her 28th season, takes to the play’s physicality like a fish to water – and is very sweet as a young lass fresh off the boat from Scotland. The Canadian husband she meets at a Toronto dock for the first time is played by Marla McLean, who seems the quintessence of Ontario farmer. They make an unexpectedly touching pair.
…I found myself unexpectedly swept up in the drama of what is there in the original show, moved by these Upper Canadians who tried to make an independent country here even if I’m not entirely sure I wish they’d succeeded. It’s quite engrossing and, despite my doubts, collectively-spawned work from Theatre Passe Muraille proves as ripe for re-examination as, say, Caryl Churchill’s work with Joint Stock in the UK has. It’s a good one to bring the kids to as well I think.
Globe and Mail link
★ ★/5 Niagara Falls Review – John Law
… it feels like a dated history lesson instead of intriguing theatre. Like a political version of “Godspell,” it can’t shake its early ’70s vibe and hippie origins, at times resembling a high school history project.
Link to Niagara Falls Review
Photos David Cooper
More info about 1837 the Farmers Revolt at The Shaw Festival