|SEE Magazine, November 25, 2004
Multi-talented multi-faceted multicultural romp
Gilbert A. Bouchard
My niece Isabelle thinks most of her family is defective.
Her evidence for this malfunction: her paternal aunt, uncles
and grandmother are incapable of understanding her when she
speaks perfectly clearly in Russian, while her mom and maternal
relatives cant understand her when she chatters away in
mile-a-minute French. This is a very confusing situation for
a precocious trilingual five year old, but not such an unusual
condition when seen in a pan-Canadian context.
With Canada becoming more diverse by the day and cross-cultural
marriages become increasingly common, a growing number of childrenlike
Isabelleare being raised with their different feet in
different ethnic realities. This is especially the case in expanding
urban centers like Edmonton that have been reliant on global
immigration for several generations.
Actor/writer Michelle Todd brings this fascinating social reality
to life in her engaging and tour-de-force comedy Deep Fried
Curried Perogiesa 2004 "Pick of the Fringe Hit"
currently playing the PCL Stage in the TransAlta Arts Barns.
This one-person show deftly and intelligently deconstructs a
womans eclectic upbringing boasting as she does a Filipino
mother, a Jamaican father and the additional complication of
child-on-the-way. (The title of the show arises from her considering
what her child could bring to a kindergarten ethnic food day.)
One of the most energetic productions Ive seen
in years, Todd earns full points for both a seamless text and
a velvety-smooth performance that covers a lot of ground, basically
documenting a whole life-to-date being raised multi-culturally,
without ever dragging dramatically or getting bogged down in
For example, underlining the pressure that multi-cultural children
face in having to learn aspects of all their various culturesfrom
food to language to dancesTodd performs a manic and hilarious
Heritage Festival dance montage because "everybody dances
for Heritage Days".
While mounting a uniformly entertaining and uplifting show,
Todd doesnt pull any punches either, addressing lingering
racial tensions with an even hand, especially as she rattles
off the "pet peeves" of any Edmontonian who doesnt
look or sound ethnically Anglo-Saxon (i.e., endlessly being
asked wheres shes really "from").
Kudos for Todds ability to connect to her audience and
walk that performance fine line, respecting the integrity of
her serious and layered subject matter while producing a full-out
entertaining evening thats both universal and oh-so grounded
in a heartfelt and emotionally connected individual experience.