Solo shows are Fringe’s bread and butter and offer an excellent vehicle to explore in-depth a singular, idiosyncratic character. With the Yukon Artists Collective Theatre from Whitehorse, playwright and actor Doug Rutherford does exactly that in The Last President of Canada, a monologue delivered by Paul Chartier, the real-life figure who tried to blow up the House of Commons in 1966.
Chartier is not a likable figure but he’s an interesting one, especially as presented by Rutherford. The real-life Chartier blamed the federal government for his failed life, and Rutherford nicely captures that kind of embittered loser attitude as he recounts the life of a man who never accepts responsibility for his own actions. Chartier complains about the bank and the government closing down his hotel but takes no responsibility for chasing out all his customers.
Rutherford steps into the role nicely. He delivers the monologue more like Chartier talking to you than an actor on the stage. This presentation isn’t just an interesting bit of history though. Rutherford touches on mental illness and by presenting a list of terrorists who struggled with mental health problems from different points in history, the play highlights that we continue to struggle to adequately deal with mental health as a society. Chartier’s issues with the government—corruption, big-business interests, a callous and uncaring attitude towards the working class—are also timeless. Chartier bills himself as a man fighting for the working class, and even though we aren’t inclined to like him, we have to admit that what he’s fighting against hasn’t really changed.
That’s the most interesting part of the solo show. Chartier is almost apolitical—at times he seems like a right-wing terrorist and at other points almost leftist with his focus on income equality and social welfare. Chartier was an interesting figure, and he remains one as presented by Rutherford in this play that explores an idiosyncratic character, mental illness, and obscure Canadian history.
This article was originally published on June 15, 2019. Reposted with Permission. Read the original here
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.