Volume 94, Issue 86

Tuesday, March 6, 2001


Whoa! Nelly flies away with 4 Junos

Yo non quiero El Mexicano

Atwood's Good Bones makes for a good show

Atwood's Good Bones makes for a good show

Gazette File Photo

Margaret Atwood's Good Bones
Starring: Clare CoulterDirected By: Urjo Kareda

By Andrea Chiu
Gazette Staff

Sitting in the McManus Theatre absorbing Margaret Atwood's Good Bones is similar to sitting at home listening to grandparents tell their life stories.

The one woman show, starring Clare Coulter, takes selections from Atwood's short stories, Good Bones and Murder in the Dark. The short prose is woven together so well that it presents itself as much more of a woman's autobiography than individual stories.

To reflect the play's simple form, the costumes maintain an uncomplicated feel, as seen in Coulter's homely clothing. Similarly, the set is simple, consisting of a couple chairs, a wall of drawers and a table that doubles as the end of a dock.

One of the best features of the play is the lighting, designed by Bonnie Beecher. She manages to use the minimal set and plays with dimming and illumination to create effective mood and daylight.

The sound effects are also basic. The piano interludes between some scenes are inappropriately eerie, but the sounds of waves fit well with the natural set and cottage feel.

There are no glamorous things to be said about Margaret Atwood's Good Bones. It is afterall, a one-woman play, and to make it anymore complicated would take away from the true star of the show: The words of Margaret Atwood.

Atwood is a truly beautiful storyteller who has a way of creating phrases so simple and insightful, you wish you had come up with them yourself.

Granted, some scenes tread on the dull side, such as "Everlasting" from Atwood's Murder in the Dark. The majority of monologues, however, are great – at times sad, at times ridiculous and funny. Filled with subtle humour and sarcasm, the audience is again reminded of how beautifully crafted Atwood's words are and how intelligent her commentary on the human state can be.

Demonstrating humanity's struggle in the "We Want It All" scene, Coulter effectively recites Atwood's prose, but seems to stumble on her lines at some points in the performance. Still, she manages to display her talent jumping from monologue to monologue, each with distinctly different characters and moods. Coulter was most impressive in "There was Once," a scene where she plays both participants in a quirky conversation.

Perfectly complementing the scenes before it, the "Good Bones" scene closes the play with a discussion on old age. A bittersweet commentary, it slowly yet appropriately takes the audience back to a more personal reality and conclusion.

While grandparents may also have interesting stories of wisdom to tell, few sound as eloquent as Margaret Atwood.

Margaret Atwood's Good Bones will be playing at the McManus Theatre through Mar. 11. Tickets are $8.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000