When I first saw the show advertised in the Victoria Playhouse brochure, I instantly wanted to see the piece, though I was trying to comprehend how one woman could deliver an entire show based solely on her friendship with Prime Minister Trudeau. I know that women can do anything, and in order for this piece to be captivating Johnston had to be amazing throughout the entire show, and she did just that.
At Showtime, Brook Johnston walked on stage in jeans and a basic top. She didn’t need to be in a ballgown or stage uniform because being herself was already so appealing. She began with the story of a young woman and a man at a party–her young self and Pierre Trudeau. Brook did a beautiful job telling us about the romantic friendship she shared with Trudeau which began when she was an acting student and met Trudeau at a party. She had the audience laughing when she told us that she stuffed her shoes with toilet paper because they didn’t fit. Their story began with a dance.
After the party, Trudeau and Johnson carried forth a beautiful friendship that spanned many years. I really feel that the audience was with her one-hundred percent throughout the show as she led us through her journey. With limited set pieces consisting of a chair and a basket, Brook successfully told and illustrated her story. There was no need for a lavish set and outfits because she was the set, the props, and the actor combined. It was raw and beautiful and Brook’s honesty, intelligence, wit, emotions and movements were all that were needed. I think what made the show so beautiful was the simple fact that we had a Prime Minister who loved people and the Arts. Brook spoke about a conversation she had with Trudeau where she questioned her choice of being an actor and if it was “enough” as a career. Trudeau believed in her and knew that it was more than enough. He appreciated that she was different and an artist, and he supported her in her endeavors. I think Trudeau knew that being an artist is not a choice but a calling; it’s in your soul. He appreciated what artists work for and offer to individuals, communities, and the world as a whole. I don’t think Brook was a women of wealth, and artists generally are not. Having a man of power and leadership take interest in someone for that reason and share his time with a student actor (not someone of status) was enough for me to fall in love with the show right from the dance at the beginning until we heard the funeral music indicating Trudeau’s passing. Brook continued to be one-hundred percent committed right to the end.
I think she did that show not only for Trudeau, but for everyone. She was rejoicing in their special friendship by sharing their story with us. I think some higher power brought Trudeau and Brook together, because art and what is often considered “different” is special and brings change to the world. Brook had you loving Trudeau, our country and the Arts deep in your heart for seventy-five minutes, and into the next day. I am still holding the story dear to my heart.
Thank you, Brook, for creating your own work and living your art. You are making a difference and you are an inspiration for all actors, especially women.