Mem­oir of fam­ily and war

The Door You Came In is a mu­si­cal jour­ney on the Mar­ket Hall stage

The Peterborough Examiner - - ENTERTAINMENT - SPE­CIAL TO THE EX­AM­INER

Part con­cert, part play, but mostly the sheer magic of a well­told story, The Door You Came In is a seam­less col­lab­o­ra­tion of music and spo­ken word.

The pro­duc­tion by David Macfar­lane and Dou­glas Cameron comes to Peter­bor­ough Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. at Mar­ket Hall. Tick­ets are $25 plus fees, $30 plus fees at the door, with VIP tick­ets avail­able for $50. Visit www.mar­ or the Mar­ket Hall box of­fice.

In the spring of 2013, writer Macfar­lane and mu­si­cian Cameron - for­merly of Peter­bor­ough- be­gan to dis­cuss col­lab­o­rat­ing on a show based on Macfar­lane’s ac­claimed First World War fam­ily mem­oir, The Dan­ger Tree. At the time, the 100th an­niver­sary of the start of the Great War was a year away, and their ini­tial idea was to cre­ate a per­for­mance-piece based on read­ings from Macfar­lane’s non-fic­tion best­seller with mu­si­cal ac­com­pa­ni­ment. But that’s not what hap­pened.

Macfar­lane’s mother died that spring. At her fu­neral, in Hamil­ton, Cameron heard re­peated ref­er­ence to an old New­found­land su­per­sti­tion of which she was fond: “Be sure to leave by the door you came in, or you’ll take the luck out of the house.” In the church pew, while brav­ing the glares of fel­low fu­neral-go­ers (they thought he was tex­ting), Cameron be­gan writ­ing a song. When he played it for Macfar­lane a few days later, they both re­al­ized im­me­di­ately that they had a new plan.

The his­tor­i­cal had be­come the deeply per­sonal. A mem­oir of war had turned into the col­lec­tive mem­o­ries of a fam­ily. The mark­ing of an im­por­tant an­niver­sary had be­come a son’s farewell to his mother and a mu­si­cal love let­ter to the is­land where she was born.

The Door You Came In isn’t quite a play and it isn’t quite a con­cert. It’s a mu­si­cal story – some­times funny, some­times tragic – that tells the tales of fam­ily, and mem­ory, and war.

A writer vis­its his dy­ing mother. He brings a book that he’d writ­ten twenty-five years ago to read to her. It’s about her fam­ily. But it’s also about the ter­ri­ble bat­tle – Beau­mont Hamel – that sits at the heart of both New­found­land’s and her fam­ily ’s his­tory. So be­gins The Door You Came In.

The songs and the music of The Door You Came In are Cameron’s depart­ment. A sea­soned, Junonom­i­nated singer and per­former, Cameron plays ban­jola, man­dolin, ukulele, and ac­cor­dion. His en­gag­ing, foot-tap­ping per­for­mance com­bines pop­u­lar tunes of the day (Pack Up Your Trou­bles, and If You Were the Only Girl in the World) with orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions.

Macfar­lane’s nar­ra­tive weaves seam­lessly through­out the music.

It was re­ceived this past sum­mer with rap­tur­ous ap­plause in New­found­land, Prince Ed­ward Is­land, and Nova Sco­tia.

Af­ter one per­for­mance, John Ralston Saul tweeted “so mov­ing.” The cu­ra­tor and for­mer Globe and Mail art critic, Sarah Mil­roy, de­scribed it as “mirac­u­lously beau­ti­ful.”

The two-han­der ended its sum­mer tour in On­tario, at the Strat­ford Fes­ti­val. “The stand­ing ova­tions were al­ways over­whelm­ing,” says Cameron. “But at Strat­ford! That was spe­cial.”

Writer David Macfar­lane and mu­si­cian Dou­glas Cameron bring The Door You Came In to Mar­ket Hall Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. The mu­si­cal story is based on Macfar­lane's First World War story, The Dan­ger Tree.

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