TORONTO — ‘Too Good To Be True’ is a hilarious 70 minute tour de force of Indian survival at it’s best.
The show is written and directed by Cliff Cardinal, and is led by Cheri Maracle (Mohawk, Six Nations) as Maria Grace — a beautiful fabulist and dauntless mom on the lam with her teenage children; Lisa Grace, played by Patti Shaughnessy (Ojibway, Curve Lake First Nation) and Jude Grace, played by Ryan Cunningham (Cree, Michel First Nation).
As the police close in on the suspected vigilante, Maria borrows an empty house and holds a last supper with her budding son and pregnant daughter.
Maria Grace is a potential sex worker and her daughter Lisa Grace is suffering an unwanted pregnancy by a boyfriend her mother has murdered by chopping him up with her Swiss army knife — you can’t help but laugh.
Maria’s would be son, Jude Grace, whom we are not sure if he is adopted or not, adds in some sibling rivalry as he seeks Maria’s attention.
The theatrical style is a cross of the ‘Punch & Judy’ parody-like style of traditional of production company ‘VIDEOCAB’ shows over the last 30 years and the superfluous lifestyle of the Bundy’s in a ‘Married With Children’ episode from the late 80’s.
The play is a metaphor for the human challenges or sub-human existence we must endure under the rule of thumb from church and state.
The show boasts some stark and lingering writing and direction by Cardinal, charming costume design by fashion monger Sage Paul (Dene) and fun props by Shadowland. All of this combined with grandstanding performances from the entire cast—seasoned theatre workers the lot of them.
This is a must see performance in an intimate setting on a lonely street in the big city. Videocabaret’s new black-box theatre at 10 Busy Street is a small jewel of a theatre. The sky lit atelier is arrayed with costume materials, mannequins, sewing machines and work tables for the makers of costumes, wigs and props.
Cardinal was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to iconic Canadian actress Tantoo Cardinal; he is a graduate of the National Theatre School in Montreal, a veteran of many stages and screens, and has played his music on three continents.