Looking back on an undefinable relationship in the entertaining, touching, resonant A Beautiful View

Alison Brooks & Pip Dwyer. Lighting design by Wes Babcock. Photo by Matthew Eger.


Nothing is enough.

Shotgun Juliet opened its production of Daniel MacIvor’s A Beautiful View in the Alumnae Theatre studio last night, presented as a Pride Toronto Community Event. Directed by Matthew Eger, it’s an entertaining, quirky, touching and resonant overview of an undefinable intimate relationship between two women, spanning across time as they come together and move apart.

Set in a place outside of time and space, two women (Alison Brooks and Pip Dwyer) meet to review their life together, presented to us as slice of life scenes and monologues over the course of 75 minutes. The relationship starts with an adorably awkward meet cute outside a tent in a camping goods store. One woman is quirky and fanciful (Dwyer) and the other is practical yet free-spirited (Brooks); there is an immediate connection that feels romantic in that goofy first moments kind of way. A chance meeting leads to an on-purpose meeting, which leads into a relationship that some would call a love affair, BFFs or soulmates—extremely intimate, yet defying labels.

Opposites with much in common, the two women are drawn to each other in a way that even they don’t fully understand; and what they know of relationships and sexuality causes them to make assumptions and draw conclusions about each other and their dynamic over the course of their time together. Intense, hilariously funny and complex, in between reliving key moments from their history together, they stop to take stock of what happened and who said/did what. The storytelling, shifting between otherworldly space and everyday life, is nicely supported by Wes Babcock’s lighting design and Oshan Starreveld’s sound design.

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Pip Dwyer & Alison Brooks. Lighting design by Wes Babcock. Photo by Matthew Eger.

Brooks and Dwyer have lovely chemistry together as they play out this hilarious, moving and sharply drawn overview of a complex, relationship—shifting between playful, flirty banter and tension filled argument and call-out. Brooks brings a mischievous puck-like playfulness, along with the seasoned, grown-up pragmatism of the neglected childhood her character endured; her character is fluid and easy-going, possibly more introverted and definitely more introspective. Dwyer is delightfully adorkable as the chatty record store/temp worker drummer wannabe; the more out-there extrovert of the two, her character describes her lies as “wishful thinking”—expressions of longing to be something/someone else.

A reminder that people and relationships aren’t always what they seem; and to let people and how they are together just be. Maybe we don’t need to pigeon-hole, label or quantify our relationships on the basis of some romantic love vs. friendship scale. It’s all love and it’s all beautiful. Nothing is enough.

A Beautiful View continues in the Alumnae studio until June 22, with performances Tuesday-Saturday at 8:00; and Saturday and Sunday matinées at 2:00 (final performance is June 22 at 2:00). Tickets: general $25, arts worker $20, PWYC previews and matinée PWYC rush; advance tickets available online. Email shotgunjuliet@gmail.com if you cannot afford to see the show, tickets are available to everyone.


Toronto Fringe: Boy meets girl in three variations in entertaining, thoughtful Meet Cute

tumblr_np8mf5mfiO1uqj540o1_1280Another brilliant two-hander at Toronto Fringe is Erin Norah Thompson Entertainment and V.TAV Productions’ Meet Cute, written by Thompson, and directed by (in order of scene appearance) Ria Tienhaara, Julie Cohn and Adrianna Prosser – running at the Annex Theatre.

It’s a boy-meets-girl story, but differs in the telling, as we see the same scene played out in three very different ways (each with its own director).

Starring Thompson and Jesse Bond, each get to play the aggressor and the object of desire, and an adorably awkward unfolding of mutual affection. (And I’m not telling you anything that isn’t in the Fringe program.) Behaviour and communication are perceived in very different ways – good intentions or otherwise – depending on how these are received. This would be a great workshop piece on issues of consent for high school and post-secondary students.

Excellent work from Thompson and Bond, playing very different versions of their characters in each scene – and finding that line between creepy and endearing.
A guy and a girl meet at a bus stop in three remarkably different variations of the same script in the entertaining and thoughtful Meet Cute.

Meet Cute has two more performances at the Annex: July 10 at 4:00 p.m. and July 11 at 2:15 p.m. If you haven’t booked in advance, I’d advise getting to the venue early.