Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) How Has My Love Affected You?

Marcus Youssef (photo: David Cooper)
A Very Personal Story
Engaging Actor and Musician Son Share Pain 
by David C. Jones
Marcus Youssef is a big hearted and affable man and a great storyteller. Earlier this season he was part of the intimate and cruel Winners and Losers, a show that took the audience through an unusual game of one-ups-man-ship.

Recently Mr. Youssef had to move his mother into a home because she was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. As a child he
found her blunt and carefree ways upsetting like when she confessed to having a dream where they were lovers. As a young man he distanced himself from her. As an adult caregiver he got access to all her property including her journals and diaries...

...which he shares with us, on-stage, while his son plays songs composed by Veda Hille. 

This is very intimate and personal.

He shows us pictures and writings of and by Roleene Youssef and you empathize and feel his anguish and because he is a warm and charming performing artist he quips and makes observations that provoke laughter along the way. Youssef's son, Zac, onstage with his father, was quirky, open and a great musician/singer.

At one point as Mr. Youssef says “A lot of you can probably relate”. 

Naomi Sider designed the set comprised of boxes of stuff from storage and there is a spectacular slide show (created by Jamie Nesbitt) of Roleene's pictures that dance lightly along the box surfaces. The effect is hypnotic.

At one point Mr. Youssef says “A lot of you can probably relate”. That is true, many people have had troubled relationships with their parents. Also many have had to provide often-stressful assistance when those same parents became infirm. 

At another point his connection to some audience members is so personal that when he mentions that in the 90’s he was a S.N.A.G. an audience member expands by saying “Sensitive New Age Guy”.

My companion leapt to his feet at the end of the 80-minute show declaring, “That was beautiful!” However, as a caregiver myself I felt sympathy but not engagement. I wondered (taking a cue from the audience member who chimed in and the comment that we in the audience likely had relatable stories) that if the experience had been more of an exchange of stories it would have been more unpredictable. H
earing a story of caring for an aging parent is powerful. Perhaps because of Winners and Losers I wanted something more raw and dangerous.

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