by Paula Citron
David French’s 1972 masterpiece Leaving Home about the dysfunctional Mercer family from Newfoundland is a landmark of Canadian theatre. The play is so moving and so powerful that it is practically indestructible. The good news is that Soulpepper’s important revival packs a wallop under Ted Dykstra’s vibrant direction.
Kenneth Welsh, back on a Toronto stage after many years, is a most hyperkinetic Jacob, perhaps even too much so, while Diane D’Aquila’s Mary is a bit too restrained, but there is chemistry there. Jane Spidell as the trashy Minnie steals the show. She is one of the great Canadian actresses. Jeff Lillico and Anthony Johnston as the Mercer sons and Martha MacIsaac as Minnie’s daughter Cathy hold their own against their elders, while Oliver Dennis pulls off the silent Harold, Minnie’s questionable boyfriend.
Hopefully, Soulpepper will give us all five of French’s Mercer plays. This Canadian classic is a must see.
Leaving Home continues until June 16.
From the Young Centre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.