A Beautiful View
With crippling arts cuts looming and a concomitant debate raging about the “worthiness” of arts funding, it’s easy to forget what the fight is all about. Ruby Slippers’ production of Daniel MacIvor’s A Beautiful View is a gratifying reminder of what’s really at stake: Achingly great creativity.
Moving along at a brisk 75 minutes, MacIvor’s nimble script runs the gamut of emotions without ever exhausting the audience, or exploiting his thoughtfully crafted characters. Two women, Linda (the reliably fantastic Colleen Wheeler) and Mitch (a winning Diane Brown), meet at a camping store, end up having an unexpected one-night stand, and spend 20 years tiptoeing around their love for each other, in all its various forms.
It doesn’t sound like much, but MacIvor’s script is so full of life, and so innovatively structured (he also directed), that every moment Linda and Mitch shares feels both familiar and fresh. View begins with the Linda and Mitch standing in front of the audience, seemingly prepared to be judged in some way, and arguing about how they got to this point. They then take us back, remembering their lives together, recreating key moments from the last two decades — from their meet-cute through to the almost-present. Wheeler and Brown address the audience directly, constantly breaking of the fourth wall. It’s a risky device, but it works here and succeeds at wrapping the audience up in Linda and Mitch’s history. (And, not incidentally, highlighting the viewer’s investment in the play’s ultimate question: Will they ever admit they’re in love?)
Spanning, it seems, the early 1980s to the early 2000s, neither Linda or Mitch can fathom owning the “lesbian” label. Fear is View’s third character, a point that MacIvor’s writing brings home eloquently and with dashes of robust humour. The sexual tension between Wheeler and Brown buoys every scene, but never detracts from the fact that we’re also watching two people try to build a life on a shaky foundation of unspoken, almost secret dreams.