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With Body and Soul, Judith Thompson takes a 'documentary theatre' look at women, beauty and the aging process

Some 13 months after a sold-out 10-show run last year at the Young Centre, Judith Thompson's Body & Soul is now playing at Tarragon's Extra Space, where the "documentary theatre" about the second act of womanhood gets its second production. Dove (who commissioned the play) won't be sponsoring this time, because the soap company discontinued its Pro Age line of products. Notwithstanding that, says Thompson, Body & Soul remains nothing if not pro-age.

Other than Dove's reduced involvement, what's changed with the play?

We have a wonderful woman who joined us, and she brought us lots of stories. There's actually a whole group of new stories. I'm very proud of the original production, but there were a couple of moments where I think I was trying too hard to please. I took out those - I guess you could say it's a little bit darker now, or more complicated.

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In the original production, the women "cast members" had no acting experience. Most of them are back, and now they have some acting chops.

It's a funny thing. They have experience playing themselves. But I chose them because each of them had a sort of star presence. It's just their nature.

Have they gone all diva on us?

Oh, gosh no. They're a complete ensemble. These women are the most down to earth, generous people.

Will Body & Soul tour?

Absolutely. There's serious talk about it going to Vancouver for the Olympics. And if does tour, if you really want to do it justice, you need local women and local stories - everywhere from Red Deer to Buenos Aires.

How have the Toronto women changed, from the experience?

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It's made all of us kinder to other women going through the same experience. Now we understand what's happening in the life of that old grumpy woman passing you on the street, and where that comes from.

Brad Wheeler

Body & Soul runs to June 21,

$10 to $35. 30 Bridgman Ave.,

416-531-1827.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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