Having reviewed many a book for various publications I thought I’d give theatre critiquing a whirl. Surely the tools of the trade are the same.
‘What could go wrong?’, I thought. And who better to attend Prairie Theatre Exchange’s final production of the season than with my spouse.
Admittedly, when I married my high school sweetheart we did not discuss home renovations. Our god-daughter is getting married in May so I thought I could recycle the notes I took for this review and pass them on to her as free marriage advice.
Marriage: A Demolition in Two Acts by Rick Chafe, is a world premiere and PTE has scored a hit by deconstructing the myth of happily ever after. But in a good way.
Can there be a happy ending in the millennials versus boomers redecorating wars? Are those odds better than ‘getting a cab in Winnipeg during a snowstorm?’ The kitchen as metaphor has struck home.
The antics emanating from the set design are worth the ticket price alone. The stamina of the actors is amazing in this fast-paced, cleverly written treatise of modern life.
Audience reaction is palpable as many recognize themselves on stage. Men in the audience with flip phones squirm in their seats when the joys of texting are revealed in a reality show subplot.
Director, Robert Metcalfe and stage manager, Melissa Novecosky have created a believable construct of relationships and cabinetry. Wayne (Tom Anniko) and Julie (Marina Stephenson Kerr) spar with John (Justin Otto) and Maggie (Erin McGrath) over Keurigs and contracts. Power tools in this play include wit and energy. Lots of energy.
The playwright really hits the nail on the head by constructing a story built around communication or the lack thereof. Discussions about money can crack the foundation of any marriage when the underpinnings of trust are missing. There is an undertone of forgiveness in Chafe’s writing.
What could go wrong becomes what did go wrong when two generations strip the scaffolding of a three decade marriage. The young couple, like every young couple, believe they will handle life better than the previous generation.
There are no blueprints for a marriage. Or for kitchens it seems. What to salvage and what to rebuild comes with a price. When Julie says, “We survived the kids. Why?” The audience is on the edge of their seats at that cliff hanger.
Men may be from Mars but it’s a lure for Maggie who struggles with the concept of forever. A cameo appearance by a zygote complicates things as does the realities of the economy.
What gems from Chafe’s toolbox can I impart to our soon-to-be-wed God-daughter and her fiancée? Having found drawer slamming to be therapeutic, I think this play could replace pre-marital classes.
Tickets to this (de)construction site make a wonderful wedding present or anniversary gift for that special boomer couple, who may want to remember that ‘marriage is the leading cause of divorce.’
Marriage: A Demolition in Two Acts by Rick Chafe, runs until Apr. 3, with an extra show added for Wed. Mar. 30 at 2 pm, all tickets $20. PTE Raffle tickets to support PTE are only $5, with prizes that include a West Jet flight, wine and PTE season subscriptions.