A BEAUTIFUL VIEW by Daniel MacIvor (Volcano/BeMe). At Factory Studio (125 Bathurst). To March 9, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday 2 pm and Sunday 4 pm. $20-$25, pwyc Mar 4. 416-504-9971. See listing. Rating: NNN
Daniel MacIvor's A Beautiful View uses tents, ukuleles, bears and Pat Benatar music to take a sometimes tantalizing look at the relationship between two quite different women.
The pair, played by Amy Rutherford and Becky Johnson (let's call their characters A and B, since they're never named), meet at a camping store. They keep running into each other, sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally, over the years that follow, until they find themselves in an Edenic landscape.
The women, slipping in and out of scenes from their lives, are aware that they're onstage and talking to an audience. That's part of the appeal of MacIvor's writing, which has an easy honesty as A and B try to sort out who they are to each other and, by inference, to themselves.
There's an unseen third woman, Sasha, a lesbian, who figures in the action and starts A and B thinking about their own sexual orientation, whether the other's a lesbian and the nature of the draw between them. That investigation and the conclusion that definitions are unnecessary pigeonholes is one of the play's most potent moments, as are the various explorations of the glass-half-empty-or-half-full phrase "Nothing is enough."
The self-controlled A is the more richly drawn character, with nuances that B, who's nervous and tentative, doesn't have. On the other hand, B has a charm, an innocence, that's not part of A's knowing nature. That distinction may be Ross Manson's directorial decision, but it skews our view of them; for all her mysteriousness, we have a better sense of A.
The chemistry between the two actors is resonant, and the direction handles the rhythms of the scenes nicely, with Rebecca Picherack's lighting helping create moods. Still, Manson's scenic design and staging, with the audience sitting on both sides of the action, doesn't contribute much to the production (which had a well-received run at Munich's BeMe Theatre in 2012), nor does the movement section at its end.