Plum Viewing

Maggie Fairs
4 min readJul 24, 2020

Welcome to the latest edition of Plum Viewing, my weekly roundup of arts and culture to view online.

Here are this week’s picks. It’s a long one so bear with me and Happy viewing!

The Weir is one of the early plays by celebrated Irish playwright Conor McPherson, who many of you may recognize from The Girl from the North Country. If you had the opportunity to see this musical during its run in Toronto, you know how terrific it is! Well, The Weir cleverly disguises itself as simply a bunch of men telling ghost stories in a rural Irish bar. It first debuted in London more than 20 years ago and even then, critics were calling it an instant classic (Fun fact: Brian Cox, yep Logan Roy himself — for us Succession fans — was part of the original cast).

This week, we are being treated to a new production, brought to us by the always first-class Irish Rep Theaterin NYC, and it is very much ‘of its time’ in that it was filmed remotely from quarantine and designed for a digital experience.

Three stories are told by three men to a female newcomer in this small Irish town. With each story, we get a glimpse of the loneliness and loss experienced by each of our characters, including our newcomer. As you would expect from McPherson, the language is beautiful, and the performances are captivating. For those of us truly missing the ‘live’ theatre experience, this is the perfect tonic. It’s playing until July 25 only, so definitely make this part of your weekend plans!

Did anyone read the NY Times article on the new rules of dating in the time of COVID-19? Well, in it we learn that folks in Nashville are very kinky (threesomes before noon on a Tuesday!), and even during Covid, men can still be real jerks (sorry to the lovely men reading this, you are, of course, fabulous!) but I digress.

This article seems like the perfect intro to Five Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist, a play first performed at the Push Festival in Manchester in 2016. Over one hour, we meet Sam and hear all about the hook-ups he’s had through the casual encounters section on Craigslist (yep, see desperate times again!) The premise is funny, but it will leave you thinking. I promise!

Ok, let’s leave our Covid times for a few minutes and swing back to the 1950’s and ‘60’s (and yes, that pun was completely intended J). In 2017, the always wonderful Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra brought us “Overflowing with Style”, which takes us through this wonderful musical period. It’s a delight. Now, the concert is now available for all of us to enjoy and quite frankly, we deserve it, cool cats (yep, that one was intended as well — and I’m sorry!!)

I am such a fan of the incredible artist Meryl McMaster and for anyone not familiar, she is an Ottawa-based artist whose work explores the subject of identity. The images she creates are nothing short of poetic. They draw you in because of their beauty and then they truly make you think. I stumbled on this as part of the High Commission of Canada’s newly announced #CanadaGoesDigital programme, and well, I had to share. Meryl is definitely someone to watch and for my money, a true Canadian treasure (plus, she just had her first baby!)

Staying on the Canadian Treasure theme, let’s hop back to Stratford, where we no longer need to take a bus to get there and we can treat ourself to a delicious adult drink as we await their last performance of the summer, The Taming of the Shrew. Directed by the uber talented Chris Abraham of Crow’s Theatre, this production took the awards for Best Arts Program and Best Performance by an Actor for Ben Carlson at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards. It’s streaming until August 6.

To end, we have a British national treasure (and trust me when I tell you this!!), Miriam Margolyes. If you have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing Miriam, I am almost jealous. I could literally think of no one better to be spend lock-down with. This woman is hilarious. I adore her!!

Miriam is staring in Watching Rosie, a short play by Louise Coulthard, that explores dementia in lockdown. It’s based on her award-winning play from the 2017 Edinburgh and will be released on 6 August, so mark your calendars!

Until then, here are a few truly outstanding Miriam moments from the Graham Norton show:

  • Miriam reminiscing with Daniel Radcliffe about him becoming a man
  • Miriam entertaining Stanley Tucci with tales of her past
  • And, of course Miriam making Matthew Perry wish that the floor would open up and swallow him whole.


And, an ask: While we’re enjoying these wonderful performances, let’s remember that for the arts organizations producing this incredible content, this is their livelihood; not a hobby. If we can, now is our time to continue to support our incredible arts community!

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