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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

More than tea and scones in Going to St. Ives...

Sometimes you completely have the wrong assumption about a play and you are wonderfully surprised when that is turned on its ear... That was me tonight at Going to St. Ives at the Varscona Theatre presented by Altas Theatre Company. I hadn't read too much going into the show so all I knew was that it was about two women meeting for tea. There was so much more.

The two women could not be more different. May N'Kame (Patricia Darbasie), the mother of a despotic African 'emperor', has come to England to receive eye surgery from Dr. Cora Gage (Belinda Cornish). Prior to the surgery Dr. Gage has something to ask of her patient - a favour. There are of course, complications and consequences to this request.

The script by Lee Blessing is wonderfully complex, and skillfully directed by Julien Arnold. Each of the women is brilliant and articulate and they each have a very good understanding of their world. They are however both somewhat prejudiced with how they see the other's world. Their cultural differences mean that each steps on the other's toes at times - sometimes deliberately and sometimes accidentally. Both Cornish and Darbasie give complex and layered performances. This is not their first time in these roles as the play was presented a few years ago with the same cast, and I think because of that they both really know these characters they are playing. There is a real investment from both of them and each has their moment of raw and exposed truth.

Beyond the performances, what I liked was that it challenged me and how I think about the world. I don't know if it gave real answers and solutions, but it certainly says that there aren't a lot of easy ones out there.

Going to St. Ives runs to April 14 at the Varscona Theatre. Click here for tickets.

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