reviewed by Paula Citron
The Bootblack Orator
Written by Ted Johns
Directed by Eric Coates
Starring Ted Johns and Janet Amos
At the Blyth Memorial Hall
The Blyth Festival is celebrating its 35th anniversary of Canadian plays, and to mark the occasion, favourite son Ted Johns was commissioned to write a play. The Bootblack Orator is Johns’ love poem to Huron County.
Blyth audiences love plays that are anchored in their home turf, and The Bootblack Orator recreates a mental improvement lecture given by defrocked minister John R. Clarke in 1886. His topics include such fare as Representative Canadians, A Trip to Toronto, and The Moral Heroism of the Temperance Movement. Via his magic lantern projections, Clarke educated his audiences about the great painters.
Johns’ research is impeccable, with arcane information about Huron County as the show’s star. Johns plays Clarke and his wife Janet Amos is the fuss budget local matron who is aiding him in the show. The two are delightful as are Pat Flood’s theatrical set and costumes, and Eric Coates’ direction.
The Blyth Festival continues at Blyth, Ontario in Huron County until Sept. 19.