What’s better on a date night than dinner and a show? A local meal and a live theatre production, of course. My partner and I decided to partake in both last week, with supper at Flip followed by the play, The Secret Mask, at the Globe Theatre.

Flip is one of our favourite restaurants, due in no small part to the veggie poutine (seriously, try it), as well as the atmosphere, use of local ingredients and varied menu. Located at 1970 Hamilton Street, Flip is in the heart of downtown, just a few blocks away from the Globe (1801 Scarth Street.)

We started out by sharing a nori fresh roll, which is a tasty medley of spicy seared rare ahi tuna, rice noodles, lettuce, cucumber, cantaloupe (a fresh surprise), nori, and ginger horseradish aioli in rice paper. It was served with a spicy sauce that was a welcome departure from the typical soy sauce. Our only regret was that we didn’t order two portions. It was the perfect appetizer, doing what an appetizer should – stimulating our appetites for the main course. nori roll

For the main course, my partner chose the chef’s steak, a coffee spice-rubbed hanger steak with chimichurri and a side of dirty rice and queso. He let me try a piece, and it was perfectly cooked. The queso for dipping was a nice touch, and the presentation was stunning.

My choice was the market fish, which this evening was clams with angel hair pasta, mushrooms and pancetta in a creamy sauce, with a big chunk of garlic toast made from fresh bread. I appreciated the fact that the pasta was a reasonable portion, allowing the clams to shine as the star of the dish.

clams chef's steak

We really wanted to have dessert, but, unfortunately, didn’t leave room. Our choice would have been the banana split, a frozen banana pie with caramelized pineapple, mascerated Sask cherries, peanut brittle and milk chocolate. Can you say, “swoon?”

Next, on to the Globe!

The show running right now is The Secret Mask by Winnipeg playwright Rick Chafe, directed by Marti Maraden. The play was a finalist for the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Awards, and if you go, you’ll understand why.

secret mask

The Globe’s website says, “A combination of humour and heartbreak, The Secret Mask tells the story of an unexpected reunion between a father and son.  Forty years after Ernie walked out on his family, his son George is contacted to help his father who has had a stroke. Faced with the reality of caring for a father he never knew, George struggles to make sense of their past and move on with their newly entwined future.”

The show features Saskatchewan actors Skye Brandon (George) and Jenna-Lee Hyde (Mae and six other characters), as well as an actor whom artistic director Ruth Smillie calls “one of Canada’s most celebrated theatre artists,” Oliver Becker (Ernie).

Becker does an amazing job playing a stroke survivor who is suffering from aphasia, a side effect of brain injury that impairs language – both speech and comprehension. Surprisingly, his condition leads to a lot of laughs, as Ernie speaks nonsense with absolute conviction. This leaves the other characters scrambling to try and figure out what he means every time he opens his mouth. It must have been an incredibly difficult role for Becker to learn – I can’t imagine trying to memorize gibberish. Brandon is a perfect fit for the uptight son and Hyde rounds out the cast, seamlessly playing the many other characters that Ernie and George encounter.

The laugher helps to offset the serious issues explored in the play. These include the complex and difficult relationship between a father and the son he abandoned, the dysfunction that is passed down through families, from generation to generation to generation, and the struggles of healing after a stroke.

This was my favourite show of the Globe season to date, and I highly recommend you check it out. The Secret Mask runs until March 20, 2016, and you can buy tickets on the Globe’s website. And be sure to swing by a local restaurant before the show!

Photos by Chad Mario