by Lynn on October 18, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

At various site-specific locations, Toronto, Ont.

An evening of three short plays:

The Stronger

A monologue by August Strindberg
In a new version by Julie Tepperman


Written by Samuel Beckett

What Doesn’t Kill You…

A monologue by Julie Tepperman

All directed by Aaron Willis.
Set and lighting by Nick Blais
Costumes by Michelle Tracey
Sound by Andy Trithardt
Cast: Sheila Ingabire-Isaro
Mayko Nguyen
Julie Tepperman
Andy Trithardt

An evening of three short, sharp, compelling plays, presented by a superlative cast and created by the always inventive and bar-raising Convergence Theatre.

The Stories:

The Stronger. This is Julie Tepperman’s take on Strindberg’s monologue of a woman who meets a former friend in a restaurant, in which the woman lauds it over the friend (also a woman) about her happy marriage, with hints that the friend might have had an affair with the woman’s husband. There is a lot of snide sarcasm to the monologue of a wounded wife getting even with her husband’s former mistress.

Play. Samuel Beckett’s piercing, maddeningly difficult play in which three characters—two women and a man–give fragmented sentences of how the man was married to one woman but had an affair with the other woman and how he seemed trapped in both relationships. The women echo their unsettledness in their situations with the man and the other woman.

What Doesn’t Kill You… Julie Tepperman’s own stunning monologue when two former friends—Michaela and Sabrina– meet after a long estrangement. Sabrina is doing the talking and is the former mistress of Michaela’s former husband. Sabrina comes late to Michaela’s birthday party to try and make it up with her; to try and explain what happened in the affair and the guilt that Sabrina has felt since then. There is a twist that is beautifully created and comes at you sideways in a way you least expect it and it’s so right.

The Production. The three plays take place in three different site-specific locations, the first being upstairs at Aunties and Uncles restaurant. A charming waiter (Andy Trithardt) serves us small glasses of lemonade or Coke. Trithardt also plays the waiter in The Stronger, with a bit of a hiccup. In The Stronger Julie Tepperman as the Wife laces into the Mistress played with composed silence by Mayko Nguyen. The wife lets the Mistress have a stream of sarcasm, digs at how she-the mistress–is alone, and how the wife is content in her marriage. Tepperman flashes her eyes in moral indignation. It’s the performance of a wronged wife getting hers back. Nguyen conveys composure, but also embarrassment as the Mistress for being in this position.

We are led to our next locations by the Guide played with confidence and directness by Sheila Ingabire-Isaro.

In Play, three ghostly figures, a wife, a mistress and the man they share give their stories at break-neck speed but not so fast that we can’t hear every word. It is a masterful exercise of split-second timing in delivery by the cast of three and their superb director, Aaron Willis. A light illuminates each character in turn while he/she talks and since the pace is fast and even furious, this too is an example of the skill and proficiency of the acting and direction. That setting and that eerie lighting seem perfect for the gushing, rushing patter of dialogue. It’s a lovely touch that the hiccup from the waiter in The Stronger (played nicely by Andy Trithardt) is carried over to the Man in Play

What Doesn’t Kill You… by Julie Tepperman turns the tables on the story of The Stronger. Even her title is a tip of the hat to Strindberg, making a kind of pun between titles: “What Doesn’t Kill You….” Makes you “Stronger.” And Tepperman’s twist of an ending will leave you breathless.

Sabrina visits her old friend Michaela at the end of Michaela’s birthday party. All the guests have left and Sabrina comes in with a gift for the very surprised Michaela. It’s obvious Michaela does not want Sabrina there. Years before Sabrina, Michaela and Michaela’s then husband were very good friends. Michaela made a suggestion for the other two that changed the dynamic. Matters escalated and Michaela and Sabrina stopped being friends.

In this play it’s Julie Tepperman as Michaela the wife who is silent and Mayko Nguyen as Sabrina the mistress who is doing all the talking. Tepperman conveys all manner of discomfort, anger, impatience, exasperation and finally despair by facial expression, body language and breathing. Nguyen is frantic to make her points and win Michaela back as her friend. She rushes to express her thoughts to Michaela so she will continue to be interested. There is desperation in the argument; yearning in the desire; emotions laid bare.

Comment. Convergence Theatre continues to raise the bar on quality and excellence for independent theatre in this city. Creators Julie Tepperman and Aaron Willis have created a company that pushes themselves and their audience to explore and embrace theatre that is bracing, challenging and tremendous fun. Their site-specific discoveries will have you willingly going down dark alleyways if we know that at the end of the journey will be theatre that is as good as this evening is.

Presented by Convergence Theatre.

Opened: Oct. 13, 2016.
Closes: Oct. 23, 2016.
Cast: 4; 1 man, 5 women
Running Time: 90 minutes.

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