Review: AGE IS A FEELING

by Lynn on June 8, 2024

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Soulpepper presents the Soho Theatre and Haley McGee Production in association with Luminato Festival Toronto. Plays until June 23.

www.soulpepper.ca

Written and performed by Haley McGee

Directed by Mitchell Cushman

Scenic designer, Zoë Hurwitz

Lighting by Daniel Carter-Brennan

Sound by Robert Moutey

An exquisite piece of theatre.

Age is a Feeling is written and performed by Haley McGee who first did this at the Edinburgh Festival, where it won a Festival First Award. It then played the Soho Theatre in London, England where it was nominated for an Olivier Award.

Now Haley McGee, who is Canadian but living in London, England for the last six years, has brought her show ‘home’, to the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until June 23.

It’s the journey of a woman’s life through the years from the age of 25 until about 90 years old, when she dies. It’s about her searching for happiness, love, fulfillment, adventure, the meaning of mortality and life. It’s not necessarily autobiographical (as her previous show The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale), but parts of it could be.

According to the show’s information “Age is a Feeling celebrates the glorious and melancholy unknowability of human life. Inspired by hospices, mystics and trips to the cemetery, Age is a Feeling wrestles with our endless chances to change course while we’re alive. A covert rallying cry against cynicism and regret. A call to seize our time.”

Zoë Hurwitz has created a beautiful, calm set full of mystery and flowers. In the center of it all a bit upstage, is Haley McGee sitting in a high lifeguard chair, looking out at the audience, the world, etc. That lifeguard chair seems a fitting metaphor—the person who sits there potentially saves lives, and here McGee tells her long, vivid, complex story of a suggested life, full of incident and events. On the stage are 12 perpendicular formations of flowers in pots on which is a large sign with one word on the sign such as: egg, dog, crabapple, oyster, bus, plane etc.

Haley McGee takes some of the signs off the flowers and fans them out to the front row, so that they can’t see the word, asking an audience member to pick two of the cards. Depending on which cards the audience member pics, dog, egg etc. those are the stories Haley McGee will tell. The other stories will not be told that performance. If one does want to know the stories that were not told, one can buy Haley McGee’s book and read it for all the stories.  

For my performance Haley McGee told stories about meeting a man on the bus and chatting to him, and how they formed a relationship. Another was about wanting a dog and finally getting one and loving it intensely. Another was about planting a crabapple tree when a loved one died.

Each story was richly detailed, beautifully told, usually about searching for love, or friendship or trying to cheer up a distant person. Haley McGee’s observations on life, love, the search for fulfillment, are exquisite. There is such a depth of emotion and humour in each story and in the telling.

And she is masterful in telling them, she is never rushed, so that you are hanging on to every word as she goes through the spectrum of emotions in the story-telling.  She talks of the love between friends, between an old couple that have been together for years, the blush of young love.

It’s beautifully, sensitively directed by Mitchell Cushman.

Age is a Feeling is exquisite and will leave you feeling buoyed, exhilarated, tingling, and glad you saw it.

Soulpepper presents the Soho Theatre and Haley McGee Production in association with Luminato Festival Toronto.

Plays until June 23, 2024.

Running time: 75 minutes, (no intermission)

www.soulpepper.ca

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