Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review: (Calgary) Mary's Wedding

Wedding Belle
Mary gets married at ATP
by Ryan Hurl

It is the night before Mary’s Wedding. We are invited into a dream. Some say dreams are the mind's way of filtering through information, absorbing lessons, and sorting emotion. In the true spirit of the theatre, this dream will be collective. Stark, stripped down, worn out beams parade up to a clouded sky that can glow with the sunrise, or shudder with a fierce storm. This is the duality of Steven Massicotte's brilliantly conceived Mary’s Wedding, a play that explores the nature of love in dangerous times–proving love is a vulnerable act that can be lost forever in our collective nightmares. Both love and survival struggle for surrender. The power of this story can be accounted for by the volume of productions it has received since the prèmiere production in 2002, across the globe. The story sits on an empyrean nerve, appearing to be capable of performance anywhere a heart beats.  It is soon apparent why…
This is the advent of the First World War, a time like many others that have followed, where love came second.

“She is in everything” Charlie discovers, played by Alessandro Juliani with a sensitivity that challenges if boys really ever become men, and if the act is even admirable. This is the advent of the First World War, a time like many others that have followed, where love came second. Meg Roe illustrates the calculated rationalism recognizable in British culture in her take of the now iconic Mary, contrasted by the cracks in the façade that push up when falling in love, the authenticity of which allows for a meticulous re-telling of events that avoid the temptation to harbour overindulgence in the emotional. A space where the audience experiences the textures and sounds created by the intuitive workings of Sound Designer Matthew Waddell and Production Designer Narda Maccaroll, heightens the re-imagings of a timeline spent in war zones and perfect summer days. Trusting this approach in the delivery of the text, emotion seems to be pulled from the fog filled air. Dreams become lucid. 
Mary and Charlie fall in love in one ideal dreamscape, yet struggle with the greatest human darkness (War) in another. The effect is a vulnerable audience seduced then barraged. The two motifs are fastened with electric procession in this production, by the visionary subtle orchestration of Director Bob White, becoming two sides of the same coin, flipping back and forth, fighting for dominance– polarities dependent on the existence of the other. The sunny happy stable world of love found in the barn, is anything but stable, as sheer loss and longing gouge what was and could have been.  Ghosts are born. 
Recollection becomes an uncontrollable act that rolls across the mind...

It is as if the DNA is remembering a story deeply routed in the anatomy. Sensations blink and flicker across the circuitry like the perfectly isolated transitions of Narda Macarroll's luminous lighting design, transforming lovers into soldiers, making it clear why “She is in everything”, including in our cellular memory. Recollection becomes an uncontrollable act that rolls across the mind like a wave that finds a crest, and must reach a surface. 
As the dream cascades and crescendos toward completion, the sobs can be felt throughout the audience. The two young lovers personify what we lose when we sacrifice the best part of our humanity, when love is fed to normalcy. The very act of their existence in this meta-theatrical setting begs each of us to question and fight the resolutions of war that threaten to tear away at the fabric of unity, peace and potential– haunting dreamers everywhere. We are all lovers first.
As the dream-play concludes we are asked to wake up. It is our bodies that betray us, as we stagger holding back a well of emotion older than our physical apparatus. It is a lineage of regret. She is in everything. Love is something we all know. On this night, the audience in a wary haze pushed themselves to their feet. I can’t help but wonder: Will we wake up? Will we have the foresight to simply say: “Don’t go.”?  Mary’s Wedding is well worth the time spent in the ATP Dream Machine of the Martha Cohen Theatre.  Do yourself the service, and don’t miss out on this one.  This all-star cast and crew will take you places, while daring you to go to others not yet found. This is a story you don’t even know that you know.
Mary’s wedding runs March 27-April 14th at the Martha Cohen theatre in Calgary Alberta. 
Additional information can be found at or through the ATP box office at: 403-294-7402

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