An abandoned drug den turned trendy street-themed restaurant. Maybe not the best place to bring your fiance’s mother…and maybe not the best place to break the news that you’re marrying her only son.
Enjoying its world premiere at Lunchbox Theatre, Meg Braem’s A Worthy Opponent is a delightful new comedy that is as smart as it is hilarious.
Ivy (Allison Lynch) loves Nathan and wants to marry him, that she knows for sure. But then again, Ivy’s never really stuck to anything, like acting school or even her own name. And that for Helen (Elinor Holt) is cause for concern. An accomplished entomologist, Helen is not so sure about her son Nathan, a grad student, marrying Ivy who works at a hair salon.
It’s not that Helen hates Ivy, despite Ivy thinking so, or that she is completely opposed to their union, it’s just that she’s worried. And it’s not just Nathan that she’s worried about, it’s Ivy too. Of course, the truth only comes out after the two women have had a ‘couple’ drinks and traded barbs with one another.
Ivy and Helen’s all-out battle of wits sees lots of potent insults, some more subtle than others, that one can feel from their seat. Accordingly, their waiter Eric (Brett Dahl) makes sure to quickly disappear after serving them their drinks. And yes, there are plenty of drinks served.
Braem’s lively, sharp tongued characters breathe wit and fresh air into the ‘horrible mother-in-law’ trope so often repeated across various media. But it is not just their ability to ‘dish it out’ that makes this work feel refreshing, it is also their dimensions which Braem explores to the fullest.
Contrary to what Ivy thinks, Helen is not just a cold, unfeeling academic. No, she is also a mother, as Helen reminds Ivy, a mother who raised her son alone. And the thought of Nathan marrying and leaving her behind is not one Helen is so ready to accept. So, Nathan cannot just marry anyone, let alone someone who is not so sure about where their own life is headed.
And so, after all the drinks and hostility, Braem brings the play to a heartfelt moment where the two women reconcile their differences and finally see eye-to-eye. So moving are the play’s final moments, in fact, that quiet sobs can be heard from the audience.
Holt and Lynch meet what the other brings to the table in terms of impeccable comedic timing and energy. Although, Holt noticeably trips over several lines of dialogue during the course of the show. Though easy to overlook the first time, Holt’s line flubs occur just enough that the steadfast pace of her and Lynch’s exchanges dip as a result. Otherwise though, Holt is a great opposite to the sweet, but fiery Lynch.
Sharp and refreshing, Meg Braem’s A Worthy Opponent delivers big laughs while celebrating mother-in-laws everywhere.
Meg Braem’s A Worthy Opponent runs at Lunchbox Theatre April 6 – 25, 2015.
For more information about the show, visit: http://www.lunchboxtheatre.com/calendar/2015/3/30/a-worthy-opponent-by-governor-general-award-nominee-meg-braem?view=calendar