Reviews - Fringe 2019

Diamonds on Plastic

By Brian Morton
Published July 24, 2019


Diamonds on Plastic is one of those tiny little gems of a show that you discover if you see lots of plays in the Hamilton Fringe.

Originally performed by playwright Philip Cairns as a Tennessee Williams inspired drag character, this incarnation of the play features Margaret Lamarre as Doris, a faded Southern Belle now living in Ontario. She rejects the advances of her insensitive and heartless husband and instead finds solace in the arms of Betsy, her lesbian lover.

Simultaneously a celebration of discovering the essential nature of sexuality and of being true to one's own self, it is also a confessional piece about being addicted to shopping and owning even more shoes.

Phillip Cairn's play in performance lives and dies on the shoulders of actor Margaret Lamarre, and I can happily report that she delivers this play with gravitas, polish, style and commitment. I could see her channeling the energy and vocal inflections of "Amanda" in Tennessee William's play "The Glass Menagerie", and giving her performance an almost ethereal quality that worked on more than one layer.

The mini-series plays at Tourism Hamilton in the Lister Building on James Street North have not been getting the attention that they deserve, I feel. Hopefully, based upon this recommendation, a much larger audience will seek out and discover this very important short play for themselves.

Brian Morton is a director and playwright, and was the recipient of the 2013 Hamilton Arts Award for Theatre. In 1988, after two years training in Montreal at the National Theatre School of Canada, Morton was the founder and first artistic director of Theatre Terra Nova, which operated out of a 100 seat theatre on Dundurn Street. Three years after that, he was a partner with Guy Sprung in the Evelyn Group, which reopened the historic 750 seat Tivoli Theatre, as a venue for live performance with a production of Douglas Rodger’s play “How Could You, Mrs Dick?”, which dramatized the story of Hamilton’s notorious Evelyn Dick. With Theatre Erebus, he produced the UK premieres of four Canadian plays for the 1990 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His stage adaptation of Sylvia Fraser’s “My Father’s House”, has had five productions, since it debuted in in 1992, at the Dundas Centre for the Arts. Morton’s “New Talent” was the highest grossing show in the 2008 Hamilton Fringe Festival, and in 2010, it toured to the London and Toronto Fringe Festivals. Brian’s original musical, “Under the Apple Tree”, about a shooting that happened backstage, at the Lyric theatre on Mary street in November 1921, debuted in the 2018 Hamilton Fringe Festival, and was presented at the 300-seat Zoetic Theatre; it got a second run at the Pearl Company, this past November. Brian was also the producer of the 2012 Hamilton Fringe Festival. He is currently a drama critic, and arts journalist for "VIEW Magazine", and has also published articles in the “Hamilton Spectator” and the “McMaster Silhouette”.

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