by Lynn on February 28, 2014

in The Passionate Playgoer


A Beautiful View

At the Factory Studio Theatre, Toronto. Written by Daniel MacIvor. Directed by Ross Manson. Scenic design by Felix Leicher and Ross Manson. Lighting by Rebecca Picherack. Sound by Michael Laird. Composer and sound design, Krister Schuchard. Starring: Becky Johnson and Amy Rutherford.

Presented by Volcano in association with BeMe Theatre Munich.

Plays until March 9.

Playwright Daniel MacIvor is the master of telling stories in a deceptively easy way that draws the audience in like an expert fisherman hooks and reels in a fish. He creates characters that are full of small, quirky details.

A Beautiful View (2005) is about two unnamed women who meet in a camping equipment story. One is poised and confident. The other is awkward and insecure. The awkward woman exits a tent and so the poised one assumes she works there. She doesn’t. But a conversation begins between the two; tentative; halting. They seem interested in each other, with the awkward one more so than the poised one.  The poised one says she is a bartender at a bar at the air port. The awkward one seeks her out at her bar one night. The poised one isn’t a bartender. She’s a waitress. No matter they go home together (the awkward one to the poised one’s house). They spend the night and the next morning the awkward one takes off, insecure and unsure about where this could lead.

Over several years, they will part, come together, fight, get jealous, part. And start again.  The poised one will get married because her lovely husband likes camping. They will divorce. Lies are told between the two women, with each calling the other out. Both deny they are lesbian. Both find happiness in each other’s company. They will be emotionally hurt by the other and forgive each other. And they will be emotionally healed by each other as well.

I’ve always had trouble with this play in other productions. I can appreciate new friends/lovers telling little lies. I can appreciate that characters would deny their sexuality. But these women don’t actually deny it they just lie to each other about it. That seemed a frivolous way of handling their relationship and I never get the sense that MacIvor was ever frivolous with his stories or his characters.

So I have always had trouble with this play until this lovely, graceful production directed by Ross Manson. In this production I can believe the awkward woman was lesbian but not ready to come out and be free with that knowledge. I can believe the graceful one might be intrigued and curious about a relationship with the awkward one, but not in a clinical way. I can also believe she would marry a man who was sweet, and with whom she had a lot in common. Then part because having a lot in common was not enough.

Manson guides the action with a deft hand, and the simplest set, props and effective lighting.

The stage (in the middle of the audience on either side) is bare except for a smallish ‘boom-box’. Occasionally there will be two small camp stools and a pop up tent.

The lighting by Rebecca Picherack efficiently switches back and forth in time as we see how the relationship starts, moves forward, backwards and stops in the present.

The performances by Becky Johnson as the awkward one and Amy Rutherford as the poised one create a couple that has connection, allure and possibility.

Johnson is all quirky moves and voice ticks as one would expect an awkward person to be. She comes from the world of stand up comedy and it shows—not a criticism, just an observation. But Rutherford is so accomplished and generous an actor, she makes Johnson look better in the part. Added to that Rutherford imbues her character with compassion. And she knows how to use stillness and a sidelong reaction to something that is wonderfully startling.

This is a lovely production of A Beautiful View. The run is short. Don’t let it pass you by.




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1 Rene Dunkley March 18, 2014 at 8:14 pm


My name is Rene Dunkley. I am 16 years old, and I am interested in being in one of your plays. I would like to know if you have any upcoming open auditions I could attend. Thank you.