In the hands of Matt MacKenzie and Monica Dottor, hurtin’ love is both painful and funny
THE OTHER by Matt MacKenzie (Company Blonde Dance Projects/Pyretic Productions/RISER Project). At the Theatre Centre (1115 Queen West). Runs to May 14. $20, youth under 25 $10. 416-538-0988, theatrecentre.org. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Sharon (Monica Dottor), a florist, always finds herself a third wheel in terms of her relationships with men they already have partners. Invariably breaking off her connection to these guys before they sever the link, she’s always the other.
The Other is also the title of Matt MacKenzie’s entertaining, often funny script, given an extra sizzle, in this very physical production, by Dottor’s direction (with the assistance of Dylan Trowbridge) and choreography.
Sharon, a serial monogamist, grew up in India with a mother suffering from postpartum depression and a constantly philandering father. Following her mother’s death, she and her father move to Peace River, Alberta, where she connects not only with Bubbe, a rabidly anti-fascist old woman with roots in gardening and Central Europe, but also with Claude, a chef who champions Canadian food, who becomes her lover. Their initial connection? She helped him create a flower-themed meal.
And of course, since her men already have an ongoing primary relationship, there’s Claude’s wife, Madeline, another gastronome, who creates award-winning menus for restaurants around the world. Sharon also has her own link to the culinary world: she’s known for her exquisite gherkins.
Jumping back and forth between past and present, reality and fantasy, the story also offers Sharon’s view of herself: that she is a pirate and made of dark matter.
The production also features a quartet of women (Lara Ebata, Natalie Fullerton, Alisa Nyquist-Schultz and Holly Treddenick) who play a variety of characters: snobbish foodies, aliens and a number of animals.
Dottor has given them some delightful moves that involve not only dance but also a series of items attached to stretchy red cords (credit Dottor with the red-themed set and costumes, too…she wears lots of hats for this show). Lyon Smith’s sound design relies, appropriately, on lots of hurtin’ songs.
Tying all these elements together is Dottor’s performance as the ever-buffeted Sharon, a figure who manages to be both subtle and large at the same time. With a hint of running mascara, a deft physicality that defines her needy, troubled character and a sureness in creating individual moments, Dottor fills MacKenzie’s elegantly worded script with just the right energy and heart.
How about a longer run for this fine show?