SOMEONE ELSE by Kristen Thomson, directed by Chris Abraham, with Thomson, Tom Rooney, Bahia Watson, Nina Taylor and Damien Atkins. Presented by Crow’s Theatre and Canadian Stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley). Opens tonight (Thursday, January 10) and runs to February 2, Monday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday 1:30 pm and Saturday 2 pm. $22-$49. 416-368-3110. See listings.
Teens aren't the only ones with coming-of-age tales to tell. Adults have stories about maturing, too.
Take Cathy and Peter, the two central figures in Kristen Thomson's Someone Else. Cathy's a stand-up comic who's hit a rough patch in her work and her relationship. Peter's a doctor whose life is pretty set, and that's just the way he likes it.
"It feels like a play about growing up for a middle-aged couple," says Tom Rooney, who plays Peter opposite Thomson's Cathy. "Married for 18 years, these are the people who refer to their anniversary as a fragile one, since it's celebrated with a gift of porcelain.
"But the fact is that we are always maturing, always having to become new people and adjust not just to the others around us but to what life throws at us. Both Cathy and Peter are going through mid-life crises, but his is a little more intense than hers, maybe because of a hidden past that's only gradually revealed during the show."
Peter's way to deal with his crisis is to have an affair with a younger woman, April, one of his patients.
"She's full of life and energy, dangerous and unlike anything else in his life. He's immediately attracted to her: she's an escape for him, but he's also trying to wake up from a life that's no longer right for him."
Initially Peter won't admit to Cathy what he's doing, though she has her suspicions.
"Their scenes together are both discussions and fights. Despite everything that's going on, they've known each other so long that there's a friendship that connects them. That history in the bank means there's a way of communicating that can be nasty at times - nasty in a way that people who know each other well can be.
"Because of a quick wit honed in front of a microphone, Cathy can be incredibly cutting and cruel. At one time Peter loved that, but now it's causing damage to their marriage. They're quite different people, which is what I think brought them together in the first place."
Rooney, one of Stratford's finest performers, is glad to be back working in Toronto, especially with a team that includes Thomson and director Chris Abraham.
"They both help us tell this story that on the surface can seem quite naturalistic. But a lot of the more dangerous parts of the play happen between the characters when they're not saying something or almost on the edge of saying something. There's a real conflict, especially in Peter, in trying to keep his unconscious thoughts buried, not available either to himself or others.
"The result is a journey that's intense and hard, but ultimately it's beautiful and hopeful. Kristen is doing what Shakespeare did in his later plays such as The Winter's Tale and The Tempest: looking at the ability humans have to forgive the unforgivable."