The show must go on. And on. And on.















When did live theatre become a synonym for marathon?

First came Mr. Charles Dickens’ The Life & Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, an eight-hour stage play presented over two performances. Then came Alan Ayckbourn’s three-play Norman Conquests (“See one! See them all!”)

Coming soon to our town, for the very first time, is the entire City of Wine seven-play cycle about the ancient Greek city of Thebes by yet another Dickens — Kingston playwright Ned Dickens. Billed as “an unprecedented event in Canadian theatre history,” City of Wine features 105 of Canada’s newest talents from the graduating classes of theatre schools across the country, in seven, count ‘em, 7 productions mounted by the award-winning Nightswimming theatre company for Theatre Passe Muraille.



And just when I was thinking that seven could be heaven, I watched Rick Mercer and learned that Shaw Festival chief Jackie Maxwell is staging all 10, count ‘em, 10 of Noel Coward’s one-act plays this season, and that yes, there are three consecutive days in the schedule where you can actually get to see all 10 Noel Coward one-act stands.

“Do you get lunch?” asked Mercer.

“You get a Noel Coward lunch,” Shaw Festival headliner Corrine Koslo assured him – “a martini and a cigarette!”

You can catch Mercer’s festival apprenticeship — in a Sondheim musical, no less! – tomorrow night at 8 pm on CBC.

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MEAT & GREET: Still-gorgeous Candice Bergen, as magnetic on Boston Legal as she was on Murphy Brown, admits she has a strong feelings about eating any kind of four-legged animal.

“Also some two-legged,” she adds, “like duck. I will never eat duck. And I haven’t eaten pork or beef, especially veal, for 35 years. This started because I suddenly started to find people carving into these bloody haunches of meat so disturbing. And after walking through the former huge market square in Paris, with hundreds of carcasses hanging side by side, it just repulsed me and I decided to keep my own half-assed vegetarianism.”

She says she doesn’t mention it at dinner parties.

“I just eat around the meat. I’m not a pain in the ass, but I cannot eat meat now — even some that looks and smells delicious, like barbecued ribs or prosciuto — without feeling like I am betraying animals.”

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BEFORE THE GAY GUY SEES YOUR BOOBS: Funnybone tickler David Sedaris (When You Are Engulfed In Flames) admitted to Sharp magazine interviewer Jeremy Freed that he’s a major fan of Sidney Lumet’s masterwork Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead.

“I don’t understand why they just didn’t give an Academy Award to everyone who was in that movie,” he told Freed.



He was also admitted that he was somewhat bedazzled by Lumet’s wide-screen exposure of Marisa Tomei’s breasts.

“I’m curious, too, because I’m not a good judge of these sorts of things, were those really Marisa Tomei’s breasts? Or do you think that she had something done? She must be, like, 45 or something,” Sedaris reckoned.

But why the fascination with Ms. Tomei’s ta-tas?

“Because I’m a homosexual and I don’t see many breasts, I always thought that breasts, like, just looked a certain way. I didn’t know there were so many styles of them. But Marisa Tomei’s breasts look like a mermaid’s breasts.

“If I were her,” he added, “I would never wear a shirt.”

Then again, if you were her, you wouldn’t be David Sedaris.

About David & Rick and the bear necessities

WHY DAVID SEDARIS IS SO (NON-) SMOKIN’ HOT: I must confess I hadn’t thought much about author David Sedaris until Rick Mercer interviewed him last June for The Globe & Mail. Even then, though I found Mercer’s interest intriguing, I still managed to miss Sedaris’ stints in July, in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, gamely plugging his latest book, When You Are Engulfed In Flames.

A few months ago I finally bought the book. Last week I finally got around to reading it. And now, of course, I get it. “I think perhaps you’re one of the funniest people on the planet,” Mercer told Sedaris, and I’ll definitely drink to that.

When You Are Engulfed In Flames (Little, Brown and Company) is a collection of short, compulsively amusing essays on Sedaris’ life and how he maintains his status as a compulsive screw-up. Gather all his books together – which I plan to do – and you may end up with one of the longest, most hysterical autobiographies in the history of literature.


SEDARIS: Engulfed


“I’ve been around for nearly half a century,” he confides, “yet still I’m afraid of everything and everyone.” By his own admission, Sedaris is the guy who fibs to the downstairs neighbours, claiming he has a previous engagement, then spends “the entire evening confined to my bed, afraid to walk around because they might hear my footsteps.”

Sedaris recounts his childhood adventures with a tickling, detached bemusement. When his mother leaves him and his four sisters with an eccentric housekeeper for a week, they not-so-quietly rebel. Where did their mother find this Mrs. Peacock? (“Has Mom ever been to a woman’s prison?” asks his sister Amy, who will later become Amy Sedaris The Actress.)

Dutifully collecting evidence of the housekeeper’s derelict ways, he and his siblings cunningly anticipate their mother’s return, but not her response. (“Aren’t they just horrible?” she consoles Mrs. Peacock. “Honest to God, I don’t know how you put up with them for an entire week.”)

One of the greatest achievements of his life so far, clearly, is the fact that he has finally stopped smoking. The fact that he decides to go to Japan to do it – and decides to learn Japanese while he’s in the neighbourhood – is fabulous fodder for his largest single essay in this collection, a bizarrely amusing diary of his foibles in Tokyo appropriately entitled The Smoking Section.

SEDARIS: Sibling

SEDARIS: Sibling

 My personal favourite is Sedaris’ egocentric, self-deprecating and hopelessly romantic account of trying to keep up with his boyfriend Hugh. When they travel together, he notes, “I’m a fast walker, but he has longer legs and likes to maintain a good twenty-foot lead. To the casual observer, he would appear to be running from me, darting around corners, intentionally trying to lose himself.”

When asked about his latest vacation, he writes, the answer is always the same.

“In Bangkok, in Ljubljana, in Budapest and Bonn: What did I see? Hugh’s back, just briefly, as he disappeared into a crowd.”

When he decides to leave Hugh once and for all, he rehearses his farewell speech  (“… because this time, buddy, it’s over. I mean it”) and pictures himself pulling away from their building – until he remembers he doesn’t know how to drive. Or cook. Or look after his own finances.

“When discussing sums over sixty dollars,” he confesses, “I tend to sweat. Not just on my forehead, but all over. Five minutes at the bank, and my shirt is transparent. Ten minutes, and I’m stuck to my seat.”

He tries to imagine his life without Hugh, but he can’t.

And now that we’ve finally met, I can’t imagine contemporary American literature without David Sedaris.

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BEAR WITH ME:  Sure, he’ll let sleeping dogs lie – but sleeping bears?  Not a chance.

algonquin-bears5David Sedaris fan Rick Mercer goes black bear-tagging tonight in one of the most memorable episodes of the Rick Mercer Report on CBC.

Tune in at 8 pm tonight and see it before it ricochets around the world on YouTube.

 You’ll be glad you did.

TOMORROW:  By Design