by Lynn on April 27, 2017

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Streetcar Crowsnest, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Ivan Viripaev
Translated by Caz Liske
Directed by Andrew Shaver and Paul Flicker
Production designed by James Lavoie
Lighting by Martin Sirois
Cast: Laurence Dauphinais
Brett Donahue
Marie Ève Perron
Andrew Shaver

A stylish production, beautifully acted and directed, of a play about relationships and faithfulness that keeps twisting and turning around itself that it wears out its welcome around the 60 minute mark of this 90 minute effort.

The Story. Denny and Sandra have been married for 52 years. Albert and Margaret have been married 53 years. They are also the best of friends. As Denny lay dying he told Sandra what was in his heart; how important she was to him; how he loved her. But there were things about her that bugged him. And, oh, by the way, he was always in love with Margaret. And then he died.

Sandra lived for one year after this and on her deathbed she summoned Albert to come see her. She had something to tell him. She said that when she first met Albert all those years before she fell instantly in love with him, but of course could not do anything about it because she was married to Denny. But she put up the illusion of loving her husband, but secretly being in love with Albert.

In fact these four friends have been unfaithful to each other either physically or emotionally. They have lived lives full of illusions regarding their mates and their friends. One man says he never lies. But is that true? Have they really lived their married lives without loving their partner? Is that true?

The Production. The four characters enter wearing formal wear. The men are in tuxedoes and the women are in stylish black dresses. They are known only as First Woman (Laurence Dauphinais), Second Woman (Marie Ève Perron), First Man (Brett Donahue) and Second Man (Andrew Shaver). They are all barefoot (Second Woman rushes on wearing shoes but soon takes them off). They sit in chairs upstage. On the floor is a large silver sphere.

First Woman tells the story of Denny and his confession to his wife Sandra. Laurence Dauphinais is sophisticated, easily amused by the story, confident and classy. When she finishes she sits beside First Man. It’s obvious by their body language they have a relationship. He puts his hand on her thigh and rests it there. She is comfortable with that. Later they hold hands and she strokes the back of his hand with her thumb.

First Man is played by the dapper, boyish Brett Donahue. He occasionally interrupts the story telling of others with his own little red herring insertions which he quickly negates. He talks of Albert and his secrets and illusions. The Second Woman (Marie Ève Perron) illustrates her stories of the couples with the use of miniature figurines. She is breathless with enthusiasm. She is deadly serious when using the figurines as they perch on her arm or in her hand. Occasionally her English is corrected by the Second Man (Andrew Shaver), a quiet man, not gushy or pushy like his neighbour the First Man. The Second Man is understated, perhaps even a touch mournful. That makes Shaver’s playing of him all the funnier.

The production is directed with detailed imagination by Andrew Shaver and Paul Flicker. In a moment of wild whimsy the action goes outside when a character leaves the room by a door that leads to the street. There is a knock on the window and the black blind covering the window is rolled up and there is the character who just left the room, miming and indicating wildly.

Does it matter that in fact Brett Donahue and Laurence Dauphinais are a couple and so are Andrew Shaver and Marie Ève Perron? Perhaps it matters that they can bring a short hand of communications to the proceedings. In any case the two directors instil intimate body language that adds a dimension of closeness.

Comment. Initially the story of Denny and Sandra is interesting. One sees where the illusions come into play. But with Second Woman being so intense with her story and then joined by Second Man, I must confess I began to care less and less for the characters and their winding stories and more and more for the herculean effort of the actors. Ok you have lead unrequited lives for the most part. You have dealt with it and kept with your partner. We all have disappointments. What writer Ivan Viripaev hasn’t done is given me a reason to care about his characters what with the endless meandering of the stories.

I wonder why they are in formal wear and why they are telling the stories. I don’t believe the couples are actually playing Denny and Sandra and Albert and Margaret. They aren’t at the character’s funerals, nor their weddings. So why are they there? In formal wear? Who are they telling the stories to, besides ‘us’?

Sidemart Theatrical Grocery Toronto

Began: April 21, 2017.
Saw it: April 23, 2017.
Closes: May 7, 2017.
Cast: 4; 2 men, 2 women.
Running Time: 90 minutes.

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