Theatre review: A Beautiful View

In other’s hands, A Beautiful View may not have been as successful, but with playwright Daniel MacIvor at the helm of his own play, coupled with the terrific performances from Colleen Wheeler and Diane Brown, this Ruby Slippers Theatre production is indeed a thing of beauty.

Linda (Colleen Wheeler) and Mitch (Diane Brown), meet by chance at the local outdoor supply store.  Over the course of their twenty year relationship, played out in a single 75 minute act, Linda and Mitch share an intimate friendship that takes them along the entire spectrum from love to hate.

In his notes, director MacIvor talks about how Wheeler and Brown give of themselves and are not simply playing characters.  While normally I would simply discard a comment like that as hyperbole, I actually found myself agreeing with MacIvor.  Wheeler and Brown don’t simply “play” at Linda and Mitch for if they had, the result would have been much less real and satisfying.

Colleen Wheeler and Diane Brown in Daniel MacIvor's A Beautiful View
Colleen Wheeler and Diane Brown star in Daniel MacIvor’s A Beautiful View

Interestingly it was in the small details that made both their performances that much more engaging.  Whether it was a knowing glance to the audience or a subtle double-take, both Wheeler and Brown show their skill as actors knowing that less can definitely be more.  As a seriocomedy, both also get to flex both their comedic and dramatic muscles and feel equally at home in both genres, which is no easy feat from a play that jumps around on its non-linear journey.

Technically the show is very tight as well with both John Webber and Michael Laird doing great jobs with lighting and sound design, easily setting the mood between the laughter and drama.  MacIvor also gives them both permission to have a little fun with what they do, whether it was the use of one of Webber’s “light boxes” in a very funny scene at an art gallery or Laird’s scene-setting background night noises (think crickets and loons) being turned off by the actors on stage.

In the end, playwright MacIvor asks us to stop labeling things and it was this particular theme that resonated so loudly for me both on a personal level and as a member of the gay community.   We are so determined to label something as good or bad, gay or straight, that we sometimes lose sight of that beautiful view in front of us.

And who knows, that beautiful view just might include Pat Benatar being played on the ukulele.

4 of 5 StarsA Beautiful View
4-13 December at Performance Works, 1218 Cartwright St, Granville Island, Vancouver
16-19 December at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, 6450 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby

Tickets for the Vancouver shows are available through VancouverTix.com or by calling 604‐629‐VTIX. 
Tickets to the Burnaby shows are available at http://www.shadboltcentre.com or by calling 604‐205‐3000.

Visit http://www.rubyslippers.ca for more information.

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