Magazine article American Theatre

The Royal Family

Magazine article American Theatre

The Royal Family

Article excerpt

Once upon a time - only a few short decades ago - Canada had a ruling, if not quite royal, fairy-tale couple to gossip about as well as to admire. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Liberal prime minister of Canada known for his ever-present boutonniere and as a frequent partner of Barbra Streisand, met his much younger wife-to-be Margaret Sinclair at a Tahitian Club Med resort. Margaret, at first an idealistic '60s flower-child, later abandoned her husband to become a Rolling Stones groupie.

In 1980, writer/performer Linda Griffiths and director Paul Thompson created Maggie & Pierre, a play which not only looks at a famous couple growing apart but also at a national dream troubled by nightmares. In a tour de force performance, Griffiths played both Pierre and Margaret, as well as the journalist Henry, whose commentary links the couple and the public's perception of them.

After touring Canada in the early '80s (including a run at Mirvish Productions' lavish Royal Alexandra Theater) and playing briefly in New York - only Clive Barnes liked it - the show became a Canadian legend. Last spring Griffiths and Thompson revived it as a two-night, sold-out benefit for the Playwrights Union of Canada.

"I felt an electricity playing it last April that was totally different from the first run," recalls Griffiths, an award-winning dramatist and stage performer in Canada who starred in John Sayles's film Lianna and appeared in New York at the Public Theater in Caryl Churchill's Fen.

"I was presenting an ideal of society that was completely lost to many people in today's audience. …

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