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SEE Magazine, November 25, 2004
Divertingly diverse
Multi-talented multi-faceted multicultural romp
By 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 can’t 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 children–like Isabelle–are 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 Perogies–a 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 woman’s eclectic upbringing boasting as she does a Filipino mother, a Jamaican father and the additional complication of her
Filipino/Jamaican/Ukrainian 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 I’ve 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 unnecessary detail.
For example, underlining the pressure that multi-cultural children face in having to learn aspects of all their various cultures–from food to language to dances–Todd performs a manic and hilarious Heritage Festival dance montage because "everybody dances for Heritage Days".
While mounting a uniformly entertaining and uplifting show, Todd doesn’t pull any punches either, addressing lingering racial tensions with an even hand, especially as she rattles off the "pet peeves" of any Edmontonian who doesn’t look or sound ethnically Anglo-Saxon (i.e., endlessly being asked where’s she’s really "from").
Kudos for Todd’s 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 that’s both universal and oh-so grounded in a heartfelt and emotionally connected individual experience.

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