Thursday, July 13, 2023

“Finale.” Written and directed by Tracy Bourne. Ainslie Arts Centre, July 12-15. Reviewed by ALANNA MACLEAN.

Moya Simpson


“FINALE has all the makings of a fine one-woman show about a faltering performer, about ageing and uncertainty, about death.

It’s got Moya Simpson at its heart and she certainly can map that territory, while at the same time performing with power and humour. 

The central character is a woman somewhat lost, seemingly at the end of a career, having to persuade an audience and cajole cooperation from truculent musicians John Black (piano) and Jonathan Jones (percussion}. And death seems to be hovering. 

The audience can expect a degree of inventive involvement.

The main hall at Ainslie Arts Centre does not, however, work well for this piece. The first part is crying out for a raked auditorium and all the glamour of a solo singer under lush lighting. Instead, both audience and performer are on the same level with many in the audience craning to see. In the second half there’s a shift of locale that improves matters.

The songs and the stories get darker and darker and the ghosts of the likes of W.C. Fields and Bertolt Brecht jostle for space. The show is not just about the performer’s fading confidence and the footsteps of mortality, it’s also about the reasons that might be behind it all for this character. 

Finale still has a feeling of being a work in progress but it had a large and appreciative audience on opening night for Simpson’s humour, skills and perceptions.