Words and Music by Leonard Cohen

Conceived and Directed by Bryden MacDonald

November 11 - November 30, 1997


In a few poetic lines, in songs like Bird on a Wire and Famous Blue Raincoat, Leonard Cohen has broken hearts and mended souls. Set in an eerie, derelict alleyway, our rich tradition of stellar musical revues continues with Sincerely, A Friend. Like Jacques Brel and Come Rain or Come Shine, Sincerely, A Friend brings together five amazing singers and Cohen's finest work to create a stirring and potent musical journey.


Sincerely, A Friend

You may not like his singing but you have to like his songs. For more than 30 years Leonard Cohen has written some extraordinary songs. Renowned playwright and director Bryden MacDonald has strung together some of Cohen's finest work, creating a unique musical revue. Drawn to a dark, eerie alleyway, five amazing singers relive the heartbreak and hope that Cohen has so brilliantly brought to life in his music. You will hear many of your favourite Cohen songs including Famous Blue Raincoat, Bernadette, First We Take Manhattan, Everybody Knows, Suzanne and Bird On a Wire.


A coproduction with Nanaimo Festival Theatre.

The Belfry Theatre in Victoria, B.C., last night opened its production of Sincerely, a Friend.  This is a theatrical review of Leonard Cohen songs, first conceived and produced by Bryden MacDonald in Halifax.  There's a small onstage band (winds, percussion, guitar, piano, cello) and five singers (three female, two male).  Although the actors are given character names (The Trapped Man, The Accidental Whore, The Reluctant Mother, The Haunted Man, The Shy Girl), not much is done with these "characters." There is no dialogue, only the songs.

The actors wear ragged costumes -- part punk, part hobo -- which I didn't think added much.  Some of the songs are done absolutely straight -- the singer in a spotlight delivering them -- while some are given quite elaborate stage "action" (though there is no attempt, rightly I think, to "dramatise" any implied "story" in the songs).  Some of the cross-gender effects are intriguing, such as Sisters of Mercy sung by a woman.  There was a wonderful high camp gay version of I'm Your Man, and a raunchy burlesque Don't Go Home With Your Hard On.  All five singers were excellent, and it is invidious to single any out, but for me the highlight of the evening was Camille Miller's stunning rendition of Ain't No Cure For Love.

After the matinee performance this coming Sunday, the theatre will host a panel discussion, audience free for all, with guest speakers Ira Nadel and yours truly, Stephen Scobie.  The advertisement promises, rather alarmingly, that we will "answer all questions"!! Complete song list:

The Guests
Famous Blue Raincoat
Sisters of Mercy
Light as the Breeze
Dance me To The End Of Love
Came So Far For Beauty
Paper Thin Hotel
So Long Marianne
I'm Your Man
Don't Go Home With Your Hard On
Jazz Police
First We Take Manhattan


Ain't No Cure For Love
Take This Waltz
Comin' Back To You
Joan of Arc
The Partisan
Chelsea Hotel
Everybody Knows
The Law
Tower of Song
The Future
Bird on a Wire

- From Stephen Scobie