Jessica Moss (left), Clare Coulter and Caroline Gillis Spring to life.
WAS SPRING by Daniel MacIvor (Tarragon, 30 Bridgman). To May 6. $24-$51. 416-531-1827. See Continuing. Rating: NNN
Forget the seven ages of man. In Was Spring, Daniel MacIvor presents the three ages of woman, and they make a quietly powerful, if not fully developed, night of theatre.
On a stage bare except for a few chairs and two panels of see-through mirrored wall, three women reflect on their lives. First to enter is the older Kitty (Clare Coulter), who's been ejected from her home and seems to be losing her memory but not a streak of anger; next is Kath (Caroline Gillis), an embittered woman in middle age; and then comes Kit (Jessica Moss), who in her 20s is the chattiest and most exuberant.
It's no spoiler - just look at the character names or the way they unwrap a piece of candy in unison - to reveal they're the same woman at different stages in her life. A common enough theatrical device, but MacIvor hasn't provided enough details to let us see how events turned one woman into the next. There's talk about relationships, love and a life-changing event that occurred one spring, but the script's power lies not in narrative suggestion but in poetic sharpness.
In fact, Was Spring feels more like a poem for three voices than a play. MacIvor offers up lots of vivid lines about the war between the sexes and the safety of childhood. But the piece lacks an anchor - is it set in some existential limbo? - and while the characters address us, it's never clear what role we're meant to play.
Still, it's worth seeing for the performances. Gillis can suggest a lifetime of disappointment with a glance, and Moss is fine as the brash, overly confident young woman.
But it's Coulter - an artist who has inhabited so many memorable characters at the Tarragon - who leaves the strongest impression. With a glint in her defiant eyes and her voice as resonant as ever, she's like a solid tree branch that's survived years, trembling slightly in the wind.