One Night In A Cape Breton Kitchen, currently playing weeknights at 7 pm in the Louisbourg Playhouse until August 3, offers visitors a lively, tuneful, laugh-getting introduction to our island’s culture, and is damned entertaining for Cape Bretoners as well.
I saw the Friday night performance of the first week of shows and was impressed by the musical choices in general (and I say this knowing a bit of a song I composed is used in one of the medleys), as well as the skilled playing of the cast of mostly musicians. And for musicians they have great comedic skills as well.
Keyboardist Jason Kempt introduced the evening to the audience (composed as we found out later of off-island visitors from as far away as Switzerland) to the “laid back communal atmosphere” of music and story-telling of a typical Cape Breton Kitchen party.
The show started with one of Kempt’s original songs, based on a poem by a student of his, Sean Donovan, asking a young person’s urgent question about what one should do with one’s life. It was an optimistic and affecting way to start the show.
Along with Kempt, each of the cast got their solo moment: fiddler Bev MacLean contributed two delightful fiddle sets (including one of original tunes); guitarist Troy Young had an original song, “World Away”, inspired by being separated from his family and friends while
working in Fort McMurray. Lyndon MacKenzie, also a fine guitarist, did a stirring cover of Lennie Gallant’s “Man of Steel”, and singer Maura Lea Morykot opened the second half with a lovely Celtic ballad.
As well, there were great medleys of Irish songs, tunes featured in the Rise and Follies and Summertime Revue, and one wonderfully evoking the stirring harmonies of Cape Breton’s two first families of music, The Rankin Family and The Barra MacNeils. And, for proof that the musical director (whom I’m assuming is Kempt-there was no program for the show) has great taste, there were two songs from Pictou singer songwriter Dave Gunning—”Saltwater Hearts” and the beautiful, anthemic “These Hands”.
Inserted among the tunes were three comedy skits, all funny and well played by Kempt, Young, and Morykot: one about how older folk might have different texting abbreviations than the young folk; a second bit by Morykot about a fast-food drive thru order-taker who can’t stop letting her private life intrude on her work; and a third (and the best) about a couple of “Cecil”-like characters (Maynard Morrison’s character from the Revue) at the beach with a cooler of beer, one of whom is seeking refuge from his wife and household chores, and the other hoping to inveigle his old high school flame to come with him to the darts tournament dinner. There was a gentleman seated behind me who could not stop chuckling everytime one of the players said “youse”.
While the comedy was funny and well done, I was a bit disappointed there was no actual storytelling. It might have drawn the audience into the show more, since, while the set-ups and characters are as familiar as family to Cape Bretoners, off-island visitors might find it a bit bewildering, as I might be by an example of local Swiss humour.
That said, the show is congenial, enjoyable, and toe-tapping fun—and there are oatcakes and tea upstairs during the intermission. A great treat for all involved.
Tickets for “One Night In A Cape Breton Kitchen” are $20-Adults, $18-Student/Seniors (65+), and $8-Children 6 to 12. For more info, phone (902) 733-2996 or visit louisbourgplayhouse.com.