Review: A BEAUTIFUL VIEW (from The Festival Players in Prince Edward Country)

by Lynn on September 15, 2018

in The Passionate Playgoer

The Festival Players, Prince Edward Country, Studio Theatre, Wellington, Ont.

 Written by Daniel MacIvor

Directed by Andrea Donaldson

Set and lighting by Steve Lucas

Costumes by Lindsay Forde

Sound by Thomas Ryder Payne

Cast: Maev Beaty

Liisa Repo-Martell

This is a beautiful ache of a play and a production. Andrea Donaldson’s direction and the performances of Maev Beaty and Liisa Repo-Martell are exquisite.

The Story. A Beautiful View by Daniel MacIvor is about relationships, the weight of language and silence in that relationship.  Daniel MacIvor wrote this in 2006.

It’s about two women, Liz (Maev Beaty) and Mitch (Liisa Repo-Martell). They meet by accident in a sporting goods store. Liz thinks that Mitch works there since she’s coming out of a tent. Nope. Both are customers looking for camping stuff. They chat each other up—is there a spark? They share information about each other—where they work, what they do. They are both lying.

Mitch seeks out Liz at her place of work—it’s at the airport so you know Mitch is really interested. A relationship results. Over several years it has its ups and downs.  They don’t know or want to know how to describe it. The play takes this further.

The Production.  I’d travel a long way to see a production as good as this one. I guess I did since I went to Prince Edward County, not that far with a car.

Steve Lucas has designed a simple bare set with a few props: two chairs and a pop-up tent with a mind of its own.

Liz (Maev Beaty) and Mitch (Liisa Repo-Martell) begin the play by telling us they are going to relive their history of meeting etc. for us. When Liz saw Mitch coming out of the tent in the store she assumes Mitch works there. This results in awkward, nervous giggles. As Liz, Beaty is the more composed and reserved of the two; she keeps things inside. Her humour is dry.  As Mitch, Liisa Repo-Martell is the more anxious, wired, emotional but not overly so. She has a sense of humour too.

Director Andrea Donaldson is such a sensitive, nuanced director, creating moments of gentle humour that reveal the heart and soul of the play.

For example, as the two women tell the story of their relationship, Liz saunters off stage, looks around a wall to the audience and gives a reaction to what Mitch is saying. The result is a loud laugh from the audience.  Both Beaty and Repo-Martell listen so intently to each other (and so does the audience) that truthful reactions come organically from the performances.  Together they dig deep and reveal the fragile characters of these women; lonely, yearning for companionship, bold, daring, awkward, reticent and then brave.

Both Liz and Mitch lie to protect themselves then learn to be honest with each other in order to build an honest relationship/friendship/ bond.

At its basic level A Beautiful View is about friendship. These women share a bond.

They have the same tastes in a lot of things.  They are both unsure of themselves and how they fit in. The relationship deepens but Mitch quickly says she’s not a lesbian.

MacIvor is exploring words, language and silence and how they confine and define people.  Liz and Mitch struggle to find words that would clearly describe to others what their relationship is. “Friends”, “soul mates” lovers?? One wonders, what does it matter what other people think. Today we use words like fluid for sexuality, binary, transgender.

I think MacIvor might have been foreshadowing that when he wrote the play in 2006.And in today’s world we certainly look at the play with a fresh perspective.

Comment. So once again, the Festival Players scores with a beautiful rendering of dandy play.

Festival Players of Prince Edward County Present:

Began: Sept. 4, 2018.

Closes: Sept. 23, 2018.

Running Time: 75 minutes.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Virginia Brooks September 19, 2018 at 8:42 am

Thanks Lynn.
I know Daniel and have always loved his writing….becuase of this review, I too drove to Wellington yesterday to see this exquisite play…thank you for making your reviews so accessible and honest…you inspire me to see more theatre!
And to find Jon Kaplans entire script collection in the theatre…how perfectl!
Virginia Brooks….


2 Laurie McRae September 19, 2018 at 7:03 pm

MMMMM not sure this review would motivate me to go. Just saying. Sounds like a frustrating hour and one half.