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Geoff McBride | Parry Riposte | Photo credit: Justin Van Leeuwen.

Theatre Review: The Persistent Stain at undercurrents festival—until 02.09.19

By Barbara Popel on February 8, 2019

Margo MacDonald’s company, Parry Riposte, is a reliable source of good theatre, so I wasn’t surprised that its latest work-in-progress, The Persistent Stain, shows a lot of promise. The script explores what it’s like to be middle-aged artists who realize they’ll never achieve success. Even if you’re not an artist, it’s a relatable condition.

With co-creator Geoff McBride, MacDonald performs as the punk music duo The Persistent Stain. They’ve been struggling for 27 years on the Canadian indie music circuit, playing in grungy bars and small town arenas. Success has eluded them, possibly because, even as punk musicians, they’re not very good. MacDonald’s Maxie Staines is no Carol Pope, and McBride’s Joe Blank is no Nic Cave.

Success has eluded them, possibly because, even as punk musicians, they’re not very good. MacDonald’s Maxie Staines is no Carol Pope, and McBride’s Joe Blank is no Nic Cave.

They moan that, “We’re supposed to be the headliners but we’re just the local opener.” Joe blames Maxie for ruining their one chance (only one? in 1991!) for success when she refused to do heroin with Dee Dee Ramone. They wanted to make their mark on the world, but “the only thing we’re doing is challenging our audience to stay awake.”

But now, there’s a glimmer of success! The director of “a major motion picture” wants to use one of their songs, Aristotle’s Dick, on the film track. But not with The Persistent Stain playing it. Why? They’re too old! Instead, a hot young radical lesbian band from Chicago is lined up to record their song. And Maxie has been asked to produce it. Joe is angry with her… someone borrowing their song is not “making it”.

Where do they go from here? Retire? And then do what? Or keep plugging away?


The Persistent Stain continues at the Arts Court Studio as part of the undercurrents festival and runs until February 9. Check the website for the schedule. This show is a PWYC (Pay What You Can) performance—you can pay cash only through a pass-the-hat after the show. All other undercurrents shows are $20 or $100 for a full festival pass. The show runs about 30 minutes with no intermission.


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