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‘Year of the Suddenly’ shows how funny can help soothe sharp edges of tragedy

Deborah Kimmett, a Second City and CBC Debaters veteran, was stellar in her soul-bearing stage journey showing how funny can help soothe the sharp edges of tragedy.

In the shadow of the news Wednesday of Canadian singer-songwriter Gord Downie’s death from an invasive brain tumor, Deborah Kimmett felt great tenderness as she took the stage for her show ‘Year of the Suddenly’ in Toronto and Picton this week.

“This show deals with my brother Kevin’s Gliobastoma brain tumour journey and how he fought, how he stayed grateful and true to himself to the very end,” said Kimmett. “Very weird connections and synchronicity going into the show.”

Kimmett’s brother was also young, and displayed the same fierce determination to make each day meaningful.

“As I rehearsed, somehow it’s a bit easier to tell the story of my brother, and his impact on my life, and in an other ways, it reinforces the deep heartache and loss. Hopefully the writing, the positive way he was, and the raw humour, will shine through.”

And it did, Thursday night at the Regent Theatre – through laughter, intermingled with tears – as audience members experienced ‘suddenly’ moments and rode the roller-coaster of emotion that turns lives upside-down, and inside-out.

Kimmett was pure ‘grace under suddenly’ as the consummate professional used her well-heeled humour to work around three of the Regent’s failed microphones, then brought further unexpected laughs holding the stool seat that suddenly broke off its stand, mid-monologue.

The audience leaned in to listen as Kimmett captivated her crowd with a wonderfully funny, tender endearing performance.

Picton’s show was sponsored by Kevin and Penny Gale, in honour of his dad, Graham, who would have turned 75 on Thursday.

Picton’s show was sponsored by Kevin and Penny Gale, in honour of his dad, Graham, who would have turned 75 on Thursday. The Gales sponsored the show in his memory, and in honour of the work of Hospice Prince Edward, where Graham spent his final days.

Accompanied on guitar by Nichol Robertson, Kimmett’s play was poignant and uplifting, with a more than generous dose of hilarity as she chronicled the aftermath of a life-changing ‘suddenly’ moment when she was blindsided by her brother’s diagnosis.

People have expectations of how they will act when someone falls ill, and expectations of how a dying person should act. Kimmett, a Second City and CBC Debaters veteran, was stellar in her soul-bearing stage journey showing how funny can help soothe the sharp edges of tragedy.

“As with many families, we got stuck in our childhood roles for decades,” she said. “But when he got sick, we finally both let down our guard and I discovered the brother I never knew I had.”

With about 250 people in attendance, and some prior donations, Hospice Prince Edward surpassed its $8,000 goal to cover costs of a new roof at the residential hospice on Downes Avenue, in Picton. The event raised $9,400.
Fundraising for regular operations of the residence continues with a silent auction of a king-sized ‘Broken Lone Star’ quilt created by Mary Pease. Upon her death, her husband Dick donated an impressive array of quilted items to the local Quilters’ Guild for distribution throughout the community’s charitable and service organizations to use for fundraising.

Silent bidding on the quilt (shown in photo above with Kimmett) will continue until February when Hospice will host a gala fundraiser ‘When You Were Young and In Love’. Online bidding will start Nov. 1 on the Hospice Prince Edward website. Generously hand-quilted, the work has been appraised at $2,100.

For information about Kimmett’s writing workshops, books and speaking engagements, visit kimmett.ca

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