Heart of Steel, written by Wesley J. Colford and directed by Luke Brown, is a clever little slice of history from a Canadian perspective we are not often exposed to.
It’s 1943 in Cape Breton. While several men are being shipped off to war, the women in their lives are left to hold down the fort at home and the Sydney Steel Plant becomes quite the popular job choice for a multitude of women. Some desperately need the money, some want to replace their husbands while they are overseas, and some simply want to learn how to curse. "BULLSHITE!" Whatever the reason, one thing’s for certain: in the eyes of many members of the community, the steel plant is no place for women.
That’s certainly the case for Amelia MacPherson (Nicole Power). Upon finding out about her uncle’s death, she is forced to cancel her trip to Toronto, in order to find a job and help support her family. Her mother Maureen (Eliza Jane Scott) is hell-bent on her daughter working at a shop, but Amelia has no intention of being a shopgirl. She easily falls in love with the steel plant and quickly makes friends with the other girls, especially the saucy, big-mouthed Georgie (Rose Napoli), who encourages her to follow her own intuition, even if it means rebelling just a smidge. Amelia is a steel plant sweetheart at her core and she sassily proves it to us time and time again.
This is a story about the power of women. Though the show is set in such a specific time and location in Canadian history, it is somehow timeless. There are women who have lived through that very same year in history who are in the audience watching their own personal experiences unfold on stage, and then there are the younger generations, who may have never experienced the repercussions of war firsthand, but who are able to see how far women have come and how feminism in our society continues to progress, and that aspect on its own is inherently relatable.
This story is accompanied by the most charming ensemble, singing and playing live music, sending us straight to the 1940s East Coast and providing us with a little bit of comic relief and a whole lot of patriotic heart.
The cast is a talented mix of artists who fit together to create a heartwarming wartime dramedy and an engaging live page of our country’s history.
Presented by Aim for the Tangent Theatre, Heart of Steel is playing at the Next Stage Theatre Festival until Jan. 17. For more information visit http://fringetoronto.com/next-stage-festival/listings/heart-of-steel/.