Would a rose be as sweet if it had no name at all? Presented at The Studio (Vertigo Theatre), Daniel MacIvor’s A Beautiful View criticizes our need to label relationships. Thanks to the chemistry of its two leads, Sage Theatre’s production of A Beautiful View, directed by Jason Mehmel, captures MacIvor’s signature wit.
The play begins with L (Stacie Harrison) and M (Monice Peter) who, rather cryptically, decide to revisit their past together, all the while being aware of the audience. Their story begins when they meet each other in a store while shopping for camping gear. From this meeting, an attraction develops between the two. The attraction, though, is neither totally friendly or romantic; it just simply is. But, as the years go on, the question of defining what they are soon makes its way to the forefront of their relationship and, as a result, breeds tension between the two.
MacIvor confronts his audience with a deceptively simple question: what is in a name? For the playwright, the act of naming something, especially something so personal as a relationship, is political. It is impossible then, with this play, to ignore the theatre audience’s presence since it is the outsider’s critical gaze that draws pressure to give something a name; to define something according to definite concepts like straight or lesbian.
It is in the eyes of society at large that simply being together is insufficient. (Appropriately, the line nothing is enough repeats multiple times in the play). Nothing can rest within or outside the spectrum. What MacIvor does here is bring forward identity politics. For MacIvor, what is in a name is social legitimacy, a facade for what is real and whose realness ought only be determined between by those intimately involved.
The relationship that grows between L and M is beautifully written. The humour MacIvor infuses in the budding stages of their relationship rings familiar to the growing pains of building friendships, especially in adulthood. At first, they stumble and are afraid to say the wrong things. Eventually, though, L and M reach a point where none of that matters. Words become unnecessary. It is in these moments of comfortable silence between L and M that MacIvor captures the essence of friendship.
And thankfully, Harrison and Peter share brilliant chemistry together on stage. They make clear the weight of what is both said and not said. The pace of the play runs smoothly thanks to their ability to move thoughtfully with the emotional drive of the script. Their comedic timing as well is spot-on. Harrison and Peter are both very funny people who know how to engage their audience – as proven by the high-pitched laughter and chortles coming from the audience.
Kathryn Smith’s lighting design is very sharp and impactful on the space. Although, sometimes, the technical execution of the lighting plays catch up with the action on stage.
Overall, Sage Theatre’s production of A Beautiful View does justice to the quirky, perceptive nature of MacIvor’s script.
*This review is based off a preview performance.
Sage Theatre’s production of Daniel MacIvor’s A Beautiful View runs at The Studio (Vertigo Theatre) from Nov. 7-15, 2014.
For more information about the show and how to buy tickets, visit: http://www.sagetheatre.com/