The Art of Woo by Liz Czach

(Program note for Toronto International Festival)


Set amidst the Toronto art scene, The Art of Woo is a sly romantic comedy about a charming manhunter looking for love in all the wrong places. Alessa Woo (Sook-Yin Lee) has always believed that she was born into the wrong family. The daughter of a variety store owner, she denies her lower-class Scarborough roots by posing as a jetsetting Asian heiress. She claims that she must be kept in the privilege into which she was born and works her way through a number of suitors, looking for the most suitable one, that is, the most fiscally sound.


Along the way, Alessa has attracted a number of admirers, including the landlady’s son Stef, who turns a blind eye to months of overdue rent, and Nathan (Don McKellar), who camps out on Alessa’s doorstep, relentlessly proclaiming his undying love.


Into this mess of misdirected affection and assumed identities walks Ben Crowchild (Adam Beach), a struggling native artist and Alessa’s new next-door neighbour. He is quickly swept up in Alessa’s fast-talking, fast-acting, make-believe world. But Ben isn’t easily fooled and he suspects that there is more to the story-why would a rich heiress live in such a downscale apartment? Of course, Ben knows a fair bit about secrets, as he has some of his own.


Despite their mutual attraction, Alessa’s ambition threatens to override love—particularly when she steps up her efforts to find a man and begins to work through another list of eligible bachelors. Then, unexpectedly, she meets a very suitable prospect at an art auction and tensions with Ben escalate. Why does Ben’s jealousy over the latest suitor skyrocket? Can true love prevail over the need for prestige and privilege? The Art of Woo is an entertaining tale about wanting to be someone else and the realization that what you left behind always has a way of catching up with you.