That was a pleasantly intense evening of theatre!
Tonight (March 8, 2016) the stars aligned and I was able to get to a play with a companion other than my usual, sometimes distracting sidekick. The play was Matthew MacKenzie’s The Other on its world premier run at The Roxy on Gateway. Run, don’t walk to this play — you’ve only five more chances to see it before it goes off to Toronto or some other hole on its tour of the provinces.
As we sipped our wine before the show we chatted with the lady selling the 50 50 tickets (gotta rebuild the Roxy!) about the state of theatre – and other arts and things – in Edmonton. “My daughter went off to Toronto and Portland and so on and called me saying ‘Mom I wanna come home to Edmonton – I miss the theatre!’.”
It’s true, friends: Edmonton is the place to be for live theatre (and so much else), whether you’re making theatre in the remarkably collaborative and mutually supportive bunch of companies that tread our boards, or out in the audience being blown away by what our neighbours are offering us from beneath the proscenium arch.
Before going into the play, about all I knew about The Other was: the “perpetual other woman” nature of the main character; that the star was Amber Borotsik, who I knew as Grendel’s Mother and Prospero’s Ariel; that it was from the bunch who brought us Bear, which I regrettably missed; that Dance would be involved; and that it was said to be darn good.
What I found out is that The Other has its roots firmly in the ever rich soil of Classic Greek Drama; that Matthew MacKenzie writes dramatic poetry, that Amber Borotsik and the Good Women Dance Collective are wicked-good performers; that Pyretic Productions and Good Women Dance Collective weave dramaturgic magic; and that I’m inconceivably fortunate to live in this city.
The Other is in a sense a one-woman-show: Amber Borostik has the only speaking role and she speaks constantly, while constantly dancing, for the whole eighty minutes or so of the show. The intensity of Borotsik’s performance stands for me beside that of Cliff Cardinal in Huff at this year’s Rubaboo Festival and Annette Loiselle in The Mothers at last year’s SkirtsAFire Festival. There is something awe-inspiring to me about one individual carrying the entire verbal burden of a piece of theatre. When I was much younger I had the privilege of seeing Roy Dotrice in his magically stinky Brief Lives at The Citadel. A wonderful piece of Theatre, but not the Drama of The Mothers, Huff, or The Other.
But wait! Look at the gestures, the facial expressions of the Chorus (Alison Kause, Alida Nyquist-Schultz, Krista Posniak, Aimee Rushton, and Kate Stashko)! They are a Chorus pulled straight from Euripides but their language is Gesture rather than Greek! As much as Borotsik’s performance is a tour de force, this is an ensemble achievement. The contribution of the Collective must not be minimized.
As for this “perpetual other woman” thing: that is decidedly not what The Other is about. The Other is about love, lust, hurt, Alberta, food(ie) culture, history, dreams, refugees, Fascism, horticulture, magic, multiculturalism, Edmonton, mythology, NIMBYism, Peace River, loneliness, and how we deal with it. All.
No spoilers there!
The Other, although I had to choke back one or two cosmological quibbles, is everything I could want in Theatre –in Drama. In fact, I think The Other managed to give me a few things I never imagined I wanted from Live Theatre. And that is a very good thing.
The Other, presented as a part of Theatre Network’s Roxy Performance Series by Pyretic Productions and Good Women Dance Collective is at The Roxy on Gateway until March 13th.
Don’t miss it.