Charlie: A Hockey Story: An Unexpected Treasure
I'm not a hockey fan. I tell people it's because I wasn't born in Canada. But the truth is I just don't see the point. So I was a little worried about reviewing this piece. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it.
Jim Sands tells this story in a most engaging way. And it's strange because his delivery involved some of my pet peeves like shifting his weight restlessly from one foot to another while speaking. And I'm still not sure if conducting the whole performance in a sort of stage whisper was on purpose or not. But Jim's delivery was so unpretentious, so earnest and conversational that I didn't care. I just wanted to hear the rest of the story.
There were more surprises in store for me last night: this wasn't a superficial play about hockey facts or the heroic journey of small town boy who becomes a star, although there were elements of that, of course. But there was so much more. This is a human story about relationships and perseverance and family and mistakes and triumphs. And I certainly wasn't expecting to hear a comparison between hockey and Shakespeare's plays!
Jim's conversational, down to earth style, really aided him in the telling of this story. And it was well written too. There was only one topic change in the entire rambling tale that felt unnatural, the rest just slid seamlessly from one topic to the next. And there was a lot about hockey, I think I even learned something. But most of all I really want to commend this actor on his vulnerability on stage. It's not easy to get get up there and just tell your story without the help of all the bells and whistles. And if it's done well, simplicity is so powerful. Jim's informal relationship with his audience justified, even celebrated, the occasional stumble or fidget. It allowed breathing room for the imperfections that made his story accessible to everyone, because we can all identify with that. I was witnessing a real person sharing a personal story. And I felt very much a part of the tale. I was expecting to endure this play, but it was an absolute pleasure to watch. I recommend it.