MERCEDES by Marion de Vries, directed by Heather McCreath (left hand). Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). To May 7. $12-$20, Sunday pwyc. See Continuing, page 77. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
Confronting the audience with a touch of irony and a great deal of self-deprecating humour, mercedes - both the play and the character - takes us into the world of a woman who suddenly, almost miraculously, finds herself pregnant, thanks to a dope-fixated drummer. Her voice slightly rough from years of cigs and booze, mercedes gives a vivid account of a life that includes a bad acid trip, an uncomfortable cervical exam, an addiction to Harlequin romances and her link to the car of the same name.
The show, the third in the big face trilogy of solo works by Marion de Vries , is the first in which the playwright herself has acted. I wish we could see her do the other two pieces in the cycle, for not only is the writing exciting, but de Vries nails mercedes with a glorious performance filled with wit, a ripe absurdity and moments of wide-eyed, emotional truth.
She's aided by director Heather McCreath , who makes great use of the entire postage-stamp-sized stage in the Passe Muraille Backspace, and designer Trevor Schwellnus , whose lighting imaginatively transforms the space into a variety of psychological and physical locales.
In this clever staging, a single chair transmutes into prison, lover, tractor, baby and weapon.
One of the major themes of the play is childbirth, and mothers in the audience laughed long and knowingly at mercedes's tales of pregnancy and motherhood. De Vries personalizes the story beautifully, creating a strong intimacy and connection with the audience, so that we fully accept the idea of the new life and new world that mercedes finds at the end of her multi-story journey.