Ben Ross

Staff Writer

We all know the holidays can be a stressful time of year. Crowds, commercialism, and a lot of pressure from family can be enough to make even the jolliest among us pray for January to come earlier.

Common Boots Theatre’s Tails from the City is here to help. Written by Marjorie Chan, it has everything you’d hope for in a holiday show: simplicity, family, magic and love. It’s a simple, enchanting piece of theatre that will leave you grinning with childlike wonder. It’s seriously lovely.

Young Billie (Eponine Lee) doesn’t want to be a ballerina in the Nutcracker, but rather a raccoon. This doesn’t fly with her father, and Christmas Eve seems to be ruined until Billie hears a crash from outside her window. She goes out to investigate and what follows is a sweet and whimsical adventure featuring hockey-playing raccoons, chatty squirrels and a hilariously uptight couple in matching jackets.

Evergreen Brick Works serves as a beautiful natural backdrop for this site-specific show. As we breathlessly follow our guides through the woods, we are transported to another world, in which the magic we search for can be found around each corner.

Eight-year-old Eponine Lee is, quite simply, delightful. She enthrals the audience with her off-the-charts cuteness and presence on stage. Rather than being precocious, she seems wise beyond her years – charming, curious and vulnerable. At one moment, we are giggling with her at the animals’ hijinks, and in the next, we are brought to tears whenever she is sad or frustrated. She is a gifted actress.

The other stars of the show are Billie’s squirrel and raccoon friends, consisting of ultra-committed actors Lucy Hill, Derek Kwan, Michael Rinaldi and Courtenay Stevens. Watching how they roll, tumble, scrap and play is thrilling and highly entertaining. 

The show features ten local choirs that rotate nightly, and in this case, it was Eastminster United Church choir that graced us with their renditions of holiday favourites. It’s a nice touch that keeps the audience well diverted even as they’re being transported between scenes.

This is a special show that should not be missed. Go see Tails from the City this holiday season, and reconnect with the magic of the holidays.

Directed by Jennifer Brewin, Tails from the City plays until Dec. 30 at Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Ave. For more information visit http://www.commonbootstheatre.ca/about-winter-theatre/.