Eight reasons not to write another play about Rob Ford
Theatrical productions about Rob Ford have become so commonplace that the Globe and Mail’s theatre critic has taken to discouraging people from making them. The epidemic has spanned several genres, from opera, to comedy to low-budget indie. Now, a local group is in the early stages of casting a Rob Ford musical, which the playwright, Ben McCaig, told the Canadian Press will riff on the mayor’s similarities to Shakespeare’s Falstaff. (In yet another indication of how crazy the Ford-on-stage trend is getting, the video above is actually a promo for another, completely separate Rob Ford musical.)
Clearly, this has to stop. Here, for the benefit of theatre people everywhere, is a rundown of all the Ford-themed stage productions we know of, complete with a handy guide to which of them were just absolutely terrible ideas.
1. The Accidental Death of an Anarchist By the Coward Rob Ford
A production staged by a theatre company called the Blacklist Committee for Unsafe Theatre at 2011’s Toronto Fringe festival. It was set in the year 2018, during Rob Ford’s (hopefully always fictional) second term.
Was it a good idea? No. City hall reporter Daniel Dale saw the show and found its attempts at satire to be unfocused and unoriginal.
2. Rob Ford: The Opera
A special presentation by the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, it debuted with a one-off performance in January 2012. The libretto was was the work of Michael Patrick Albano, the stage director of the faculty’s opera division, and it starred a few of his students. One scene featured Ford meeting Margaret Atwood in heaven.
Was it a good idea? Arguably. At any rate, people seemed to enjoy it.
3. It’s a Wonderful Toronto
Another attempt at a Ford-themed stage comedy, this one ostensibly a take on the Jimmy Stewart holiday classic, though in practice it was more like a weird Rob Ford winter pageant. It premiered in the Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace in December 2012.
Was it a good idea? No. By most accounts, its attempts at humour went totally awry. The Star‘s critic thought the jabs at Ford were far too easy and obvious.
4. One Wild Night
An adaptation by David Ferry of Star reporter Kevin Donovan’s news article of the same name. It seems to have been staged for one night only in a bar on Queen Street East back in May.
Was it a good idea? Hard to say. The only record of the performance is in journalist Jonathan Goldsbie’s Twitter feed. “We’re at the point where Big Macs are being eaten off the floor,” he tweeted at one point.
5. Dreaming of Rob Ford
Was it a good idea? Kinda? Daisey is a clever speaker (he could lecture on paint drying and probably still be engaging), and the show is genuinely funny and insightful at points. The key incident—an anecdote about Daisey smoking crack in order to understand Ford better—lacks credibility given its author’s history, but it’s a nice yarn all the same.
6. 21 Things You Should Know About Toronto’s Crack-Smoking Mayor
A play by Jason Hall, premiering at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe on July 31.
Was it a good idea? Hard to say. It hasn’t even opened yet.
7. Rob Ford the Musical
An attempt at a Ford musical by Bernard Maieaaz and Donna Lypchuk. It failed to raise $42,500 on Indiegogo earlier this year.
Was it a good idea? Judging by the promo video (it’s embedded at the top of this post), we’re inclined to say no. But the show hasn’t been produced yet.
8. Rob Ford the Musical
A second Rob Ford musical, this one by Brett McCaig. It’s scheduled to open at the Factory Theatre in September, and the producers are holding an open casting call. A session on Monday drew a number of actors and wannabes, including “Slurpy,” the mayor’s semi-famous doppelgänger.
Was it a good idea? In an interview with the Canadian Press, McCaig said the play will open with Ford being knocked out by a news camera (art imitates life) and then going on a spirit quest led by a transvestite named “Tranny.” So, probably not a great idea, no.