Memoir of family and war
The Door You Came In is a musical journey on the Market Hall stage
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.markethall.org 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.