A BEAUTIFUL VIEW written and directed by Daniel MacIvor, with Caroline Gillis and Tracy Wright. Presented by da da kamera and Buddies in Bad Times at Buddies (12 Alexander). Previews Tuesday (May 9), opens Wednesday (May 10) and runs to May 21, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $15-$29, Sunday pwyc. 416-975-8555. Rating: NNNNN
We all know people whose relationship makes them seem like a pair of bar magnets. If the poles are properly aligned, there's a strong attraction; at other times, when like charges come in contact, they push apart.
That's the case with Liz and Mitch (short for Michelle), the two women in Daniel MacIvor's A Beautiful View.
The play traces their lives over a period of two decades as they connect and then bounce apart three times.
A Beautiful View is noteworthy partly because it marks the final new work by da da kamera, the company for which MacIvor has created some of the best Canadian theatre of the past 20 years. The show's also worth anticipating since it features two actors who have been in the playwright's productions since the early days, Caroline Gillis and Tracy Wright.
"I'm lucky to have had such a long friendship and working relationship with Daniel," says Gillis on the phone from Ottawa, where A Beautiful View is playing before it comes to Buddies.
"He tends to write with me in mind when he's creating certain characters, since he knows what I can draw on as an actor.
"And because he writes for people he knows and respects, he's drawn on the history that Tracy and I have. We bring something to the table that you can't always put into words."
That'll be useful in the case of Mitch and Liz, who have an ongoing, unspoken conflict about how to define themselves and their relationship. Or even if they have a relationship, since they're pretty slippery about characterizing their connection with one other.
"That ambiguity is the defining thing about their connection," offers Wright. "There are some relationships that are neither one thing or another - friends who seem like couples, or couples whose association is on and off.
"Liz and Mitch are especially good at not naming things, and that vagueness about what they have together is at times the prime thing about their relationship."
Over the course of the show, the two characters play with the truth, each inventing white lies and excuses, possibly to keep the other at a distance.
"Mitch calls it wishful thinking," says Gillis about her character. "But her biggest lie, thematically, is to herself, for she's in denial about what she feels and the nature of her friendship with Liz."