at Presentation House Theatre, North Vancouver
to June 18
Three little words: I am yours. Are they blessing or curse?
The ultimate desideratum or the ultimate nightmare? In I
Am Yours they mean all these things to characters who so intensely desire
to be loved and possessed by another. Be careful what you wish
for, warns Judith Thompson.
No one else in Canada writes like Thompson. Her characters
wear their psyches on their sleeves in plays like I
The Crackwalker and Lion
in the Streets,
where ecstasy and terror are never far below the surface, often manifesting
themselves in powerfully disturbing metaphors of the natural
In this play the character Mack (Nigel Vonas) recalls his cleanliness-obsessed
mother breaking open a kitchen wall when he was a child to reveal a gigantic
hive swarming with thousands of bees that pursued and stung him. The terrifyingly
monstrous lurks even in the most sanitized, domesticated corners of our lives.
And nowhere more than in love.
Mack’s marriage to Dee (Robin Mooney) is in trouble, perhaps because of
her severe emotional distress. She has nightmares of lions and sharks banging
against cage doors. Driven by these subterranean forces, she doesn’t know
whether to love Mack or hate him, cage him or drive him away.
One night Dee “lets her animal out” and has sex with the emotionally
volatile and possibly deranged superintendent of her building, Toilane (Jeffrey
Fisher). Things really heat up when Dee gets pregnant and has to decide whether
to tell Mack, abort or keep the baby—another terrifying animal behind a
wall—or concede it to Toi and his persistent mother Pegs (Joan Bryans),
who feels that she’s waging class warfare.
Dee’s waking nightmare also provides a chance for her ugly duckling sister
Mercy (Heather Cant) to gain some leverage. Thin, pretty Dee, Daddy’s favorite,
always had it easy. Plain, love-starved Mercy with her excess “poundage” has
had to settle for pathetic fantasies, predatory older men and a husband who prefers
watching The Brady Bunch to having sex with her. “If you’re a woman
and you’re born ugly,” says Mercy, “you might as well be born
Though often horrific and disturbing, the play is not entirely
a downer. Thompson’s
characters show a kind of courage in managing to cope with their acute hyper-consciousness
of the Dark Side. And there’s a good deal of grotesque humour in the characters’ skewed
perceptions, such as Toi’s obsession with the length of Dee’s feet.
This difficult material is handled smartly by a largely non-professional
company (the only Equity actor in the cast, Angelo Renai, plays
small roles). The acting
is very strong across the board but Fisher’s Toilane and Cant’s Mercy
are standouts. Director Maryth Gilroy effectively knits together Thompson’s
overly fragmented script with the help of Anne Nicole Meeson’s efficient
set, Erin Harris’ sharply focused lighting, and especially Ian Alexander
Martin’s fractured hard-rock soundtrack.
Definitely worth catching before it closes on Saturday.