A nostalgic play for me at the Stratford Festival this season was Les Belles-Soeurs. It takes place one evening in Montreal in the 1960s as a woman, Germaine, who has won one million stamps, works with her sisters and friends to paste them into books in order to redeem them for all manner of merchandise.
The interaction between the characters reminded me of my grandmother and her sisters in Montreal in the 60s and to top it off, they collected the stamps as well. Not that any of them won a million of them, but they did often win the various games and lotteries they played. The set took me right back to living in Montreal in the 60s – the old kitchen appliances and the Formica kitchen table. The house dresses the older characters wore are what I remember my grandmother and her sisters wearing.
As Germaine regales everyone with her plans to redo the whole apartment with her winnings, her sisters and friends begin to get disgruntled with their lots in life and secretly start to help themselves to Germaine’s stamps. Everyone has a hard luck story and they feel they deserve to “win “ the stamps more than Germaine who is lording it over them. It is a touching and funny play that was very enjoyable.
I purchased my ticket for the matinée a couple of hours before the play so got it half price ($38). This play was at the main Festival Theatre (the largest venue) and I managed to snag a free parking spot on the circular drive beside the theatre, Queens Park Drive, as I got there so early. There is also a free lot at the back of the parking area by Christopher Plummer Street. Downtown is just a 15-20 minute walk from the theatre so I walked into town for lunch before heading back to the theatre for the play at 2:00 pm.
My seat was in the balcony and there were not many people up there. As often is the case when this happens, the staff told us we could move down to the front of the balcony once the play was about to start. There really are no bad seats in the theatre but it was nice to be able to move up closer without having paid a lot more for that seat and nice for the actors to see faces in the balcony.