Volume 94, Issue 19
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Acting fails to save story
Gazette File Photo
OK, SO WE CAN'T DO A HUMAN PYRAMID. The cast of the play I Am Yourscome to grips with their limitations at the Black Lodge Theatre
I Am Yours
Starring: Jayson McDonald, Lil Malinich, Sue Mei, Alyson Pauley
Directed By: Lil Malinich
By Matt Pearson
A good play begins with a great script and an interesting story. From there, it is the cast's collective responsibility to bring this story to life on stage. If the story is problematic, then the cast can only do so much to save it.
Such is the case with the latest Theatre Soup production I Am Yours, written by award-winning Quebec playwright Judith Thompson. The story is essentially a tale about six individuals, all of whom are in some way or another, emotionally damaged.
The action unfolds in a number of quick vignettes, allowing the audience to slowly piece together the puzzle that connects these characters. Mercy is a young woman whose past affairs with a much older man have left her sexually aggressive and yearning for a true love. Her sister, Deirdre, whose shadow Mercy has always lived beneath, is a far more complex character who has recently fallen out of love with her husband, Mack. The unwinding of their marriage has left Mack with a broken spirit and Deirdre with serious delusions.
Enter into this emotionally unstable equation Toilane, the sketchy superintendent of Deirdre's building. Toilane is convinced that he and Deirdre are meant to be together, but his lonely and demanding mother, Pegs, is convinced that her son is meant to move back home with her like all unmarried 28-year-olds.
The plot thickens when Deirdre becomes pregnant with Toilane's child. She is convinced she should give the child up for adoption, but not before using it as a tool to get Mack to come back to her. What ensues is a series of angry realizations and startling revelations, which lead to a custody battle, a kidnapping and finally, a sharply abrupt conclusion.
I Am Yours is nicely staged at the Black Lodge Theatre in the Galleria Mall. An intimate space, the stage runs lengthwise as opposed to the more standard widthwise. This gives the players a far larger space to work with and the audience an unusual perspective.
Although the characters' motivations are difficult to decipher, the entire cast is quite engrossing. Sue Mei turns in a deft yet disturbing performance as the young Mercy, a woman plagued with sexual treachery and loneliness. Alyson Pauley, who plays Toilane's aggravating mother Pegs, adds a degree of much-needed humour to the story with her talkative, pushy behaviour and outlandish, eccentric outfits.
As the reckless, bittersweet Toilane, Jayson McDonald is tremendous. Equal parts edgy and vulnerable, McDonald seethes with anger and frustration after being taken advantage of by the cunning Deirdre (Lil Malinich). Malinich, who also directs the show, plays her character with icy, haunting conviction, vacillating between bouts of anger, longing and inner turmoil.
Despite a number of strong performances, the cast could not fill the story's seeping deficits. The audience is never given any idea as to why these people are so damaged and the play's end is so sudden that it robs the second act of any relevance to the story.
Plays which require the audience to do some independent thinking and interpreting have a distinctive place in the world of live theatre, but some guidance and explanation is still needed. Otherwise, the show's central message is lost and solid performances are wasted on lacklustre material.
I Am Yours is showing at the Black Lodge Theatre in the Galleria Mall. The show starts at 8 p.m. and runs tonight through Saturday.
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