Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Locked-in romance leaves a lot to talk about

  • Print

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess with waist-length blond hair, inhabiting a tower where handsome suitors came to win her heart and kingdom.

That’s the story John understands when he arrives breathless, after climbing 33 storeys of stairs, to the lofty lair of Beatrice, a bored young woman determined to find her Prince Charming. In her version of speed dating, she throws down three challenges to her candidates but none so far have been able to "interest, move and seduce her," and so win a substantial reward.

In Carole Frechette’s loopy comic romance John & Beatrice, which opened the Theatre Projects Manitoba season Thursday night, it quickly becomes clear this is no fairy tale where love conquers all and everyone lives happily ever after.

Nothing is as it’s described by the befuddling Beatrice, who has plastered her neighbourhood with posters describing herself as a "well-to-do young heiress, intelligent and perceptive, who has never loved anyone." Her dubious association to royalty is being the daughter of the late plastic garbage can king.

John is her 15th possible paramour. Polaroid photos of her previous wannabe beaus hang on a line on the wall in her sparsely furnished room, and encounters a young woman dressed vaguely like a genie with Rapunzel-like hair, munching on apples. Are they the forbidden fruit of Eve or the poison apple of Snow White?

Oh yeah — Beatrice has narcolepsy and falls asleep frequently.

That’s part of the appeal of John & Beatrice; the quirky story seems familiar but it darts back and forth between fantasy and realism, ensuring its direction is unpredictable and irresistible. Frechette, a prominent Quebec playwright, with director Ardith Boxall, creates a momentum of suspense that engages the audience for most of the 90 minutes in Beatrice’s misguided quest for transcendent love.

Tracy Penner is a delightful heroine, earning empathy from audience members for Beatrice despite the character’s pathological lying, incessant chattering and excessive delusions. Penner’s expressive face registers all the quicksilver emotional transitions of the character.

The trials of this Everywoman are recognizable. Her poster is like an exaggerated self-description on a dating website. She has these sketchy notions of love that sound as if they come from a Cosmo cover story: love your man by cooking him a rack of lamb, buying him pine-scented aftershave and screaming during sex.

In John, Beatrice has met her match, or so she thinks. He is a hunter, an all-business bounty hunter dressed all in black, and Kevin Klassen plays him as cool, focused and resourceful, willing to do whatever it takes to seduce her, even if it means attempting to sing the fiendishly difficult aria Nessum Dorma from the Puccini opera Turandot (another reference to a woman who can only be wed by a suitor answering her three riddles). Klassen’s performance is lively and assured but the part is not as developed as the role of Beatrice.

John completes the challenges and claims the reward. In Beatrice’s fantasy world, she thinks she is the prize, but John is a show-me-the-money guy and demands the pile of $20 bills he has been promised. That’s when Beatrice’s story begins to unravel and she discovers she has mistaken John for mushy when he is mercenary. He is not interested, moved or seduced  — even when she sheds her falseness and exposes who she really is.

They duel in the locked apartment room, enhanced with some striking visuals by Hugh Conacher, after Beatrice has tossed the key out of the window in the hopes of unlocking John’s steel heart. She makes all kinds of attempts to get him to warm up to her but it becomes obvious she can’t draw him into her fantasy.

John & Beatrice does not tie up neatly but leaves a lot to talk about on the way home.

Theatre Review
John & Beatrice
Theatre Projects Manitoba
To Nov. 11 at Rachel Browne Theatre
Tickets: $15-$25 at 204-989-2400
Four stars out of five

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg police comment on two officers that resuscitated baby

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005

View More Gallery Photos


What do you think of Manitoba Hydro's deal to create a surface-parking lot to allow for construction of a new substation?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google