MARY'S WEDDING by Stephen Massicotte (Solo Productions). At Streetcar Crowsnest (345 Carlaw). Runs to February 16. $35-$55. crowstheatre.com. See listing..
Though Stephen Massicottes two-hander has been produced across the country and internationally, this is the first professional Toronto staging. Solo Productions offers a charming if slightly uneven take on an established Canadian play.
The story begins in 1920, the night before Mary (Kate Ross), a young English immigrant, will be married. The story then jumps back six years to Marys first encounter with Charlie (Fraser Elsdon), a young Canadian farmer. They are both seeking shelter in a barn during a storm, and lightning strikes literally and metaphorically. When Charlie goes off to fight in the Great War, he devotedly writes to her about his time in the trenches.
The narrative structure can be confusing at first. The story depicts Marys dream, weaving together scenes from her past with ones she imagines, including scenes from Charlies letters. Ross is tasked with playing both Mary and Charlies sergeant, and despite her overly deliberate accent, which comes across as forced, Ross adeptly distinguishes the characters with her vocal range and physicality. Elsdon plays the well-meaning but slightly hapless Charlie well in the early scenes, but in the latter half his performance doesnt hit the passion or force necessary for the emotional stakes to resonate.
David Boechlers set consists of a slanted platform with a ridge (allowing for levels), and easily transforms from a quiet countryside to the trenches with the addition of a few sandbags. Jason Hands lighting design is subtle but suggestive, adding warmth to the Canadian landscape and stark shadows to the war zone.
Kent Stainess direction balances the depth and the humour of the characters, revealing nuance within a script that can often veer toward the sentimental and predictable.