A baby on the way. A marital infidelity. Marriage counsellor, heal thyself.
Three Five Productions’ Perceptions of Love in the Pursuit of Happiness, written and directed by Chantal Forde, examines three couples facing huge relationship challenges as they strive for life, love and happiness – running in the Factory Theatre mainspace for Toronto Fringe.
Jessica (Katherine Fogler) and Damon (Shelly Antony) are married high school sweethearts. He’s just been promoted at work, which comes as a great relief as they’re expecting their first baby. It’s a big change coming to their lives – and relationship – one that forces them to consider what they really want. Do they both want the same things?
Nika (Andrea Brown) and Marcus (Tim Cadeny) have been forced apart by an affair, and are trying to put the pieces of their marriage back together. Forgetting is impossible, but what about forgiveness – and, even more importantly, trust?
Marriage counsellor Stephen (Joel Fishbane) finds himself working on his own relationship issues with his younger girlfriend Lise (Genviève DeGraves). Is there more to this May/December relationship than good times and great sex? And can he bring himself to walk the talk?
Really nice work from this cast, who collectively brave the deep emotional places of these characters with respect and honesty; and bring a quiet, natural dynamic to these relationships – the ease and difficulty of couples who know each other well. Antony’s Damon is sweet, boyish and optimistic; excited and scared at the prospect of becoming a father. Fogler is edgy and smart-ass as Jessica, whose attitude goes into overdrive as she deals with her own terror and uncertainty at this huge life change. Brown gives Nika multiple layers of inner conflict as she push-pulls to and from Marcus with a combination of determination and fragility; longing to make it work, but struggling with her own trust issues. And Cadeny’s Marcus is irreverently funny, contrite and hopeful, but wary himself; finding forgiveness isn’t easy and he can’t make Nika trust him. Fishbane is good-natured and professional as Stephen, a middle-aged dude who’s good at what he does, but torn between the optics and what his heart is telling him when it comes to his feelings for his much younger girlfriend. As Lise, DeGraves is bubbly and vivacious, a fresh university grad who’s excited to take on the world and not afraid to work for it, and wise beyond her years.
You can’t help but place yourself in these couples’ situations – or at least form an opinion about them. The play also highlights the question: How much of our own ‘happy’ can we – or should we – come to expect from the one we love and how we feel when we’re with them?
Perceptions of Love in the Pursuit of Happiness is a lovely, complex, layered exploration of modern-day romantic relationships – gradually and organically unfolding, and performed with truth and heart by an excellent cast.
Perceptions of Love in the Pursuit of Happiness continues at the Factory Theatre mainspace until July 11 – check their Fringe show page for exact dates/times.