Lisa Marie DiLiberto puts the wild back in Queen West
Produced by Theatre Passe Muraille and FIXT POINT
Created by Lisa Marie DiLiberto
Directed by Varrick Grimes
Group walk with Lisa Marie DiLiberto. Photo by Katherine Fleitas.
A crowd of about 60 people gathered outside Theatre Passe Muraille’s red doors on Thursday night for the opening of The Tale Of A Town – Queen West, a co-production with site-specific theatre company FIXT POINT. What would come next was anybody’s guess. But we all knew something interesting was about to happen.
Staged environmentally with no fourth wall, the unconventional show begins with a hilarious mime routine (performed by Adam Paolozza) to the Parachute Club’s “Rise Up.” Then we meet our guide, a larger-than-life, champagne swigging real estate agent (Lisa Marie DiLiberto), who takes us (prospective buyers) on a tour of the neighbourhood. As we walk the nearby streets and alleys, she points out (in rhyming couplets, no less) various spots where famous artists have worked and played over the years.
As we get closer to our final destination, we bump into a busker (Treasa Levasseur) singing an ironic version of the Barenaked Ladies’ “If I Had a Million Dollars” — a satirical stab at the increased gentrification of the area — outside the new Winners/Loblaws/Joe Fresh at the corner of Queen and Portland.
Our next stop is the “Campagne Feathered Eco Boho Loft,” a large space above the recently rebuilt Duke’s Cycle. The pricing for each condo is projected on the wall inside. One unit, the “Passe Muraille Pad,” is advertised as 90 sq. ft., starting price: $1,200,000,000.
In this second part of The Tale Of A Town – Queen West, DiLiberto becomes another character: a vintage clothing store owner named Jane. We literally follow her around, interacting with designer Lindsay Anne Black’s creative set, as she uses clothes to recreate memories of the old Queen West (before the invasion of big box stores like Club Monaco).
The nostalgic journey combines live and recorded music, interview sound bytes and video footage to tell the story of a fiercely independent and proud community. Recognizable people and places pop up, including rockabilly hero Handsome Ned, The Cameron House, The Rivoli and Speakers’ Corner. In one particularly touching scene, the show pays tribute to those whose lives were affected by heroin addiction and AIDS in the early ‘80s.
DiLiberto gives a wildly entertaining — not to mention ballsy— performance inspired by her extensive clown training. She is a creative force to be reckoned with, as are her musical assistants Paolozza and Levasseur. While the show’s structure is a bit chaotic, the team somehow manages to pull everything together. This is a one-of-a-kind urban theatre experience.
The Tale Of A Town — Queen West is freewheeling and unpredictable — just like the neighbourhood it celebrates. The show runs until October 9, 2011 at Theatre Passe Muraille. Click here for more information and to buy tickets.