Review: Where You Are

Review | by Norah Pendergast

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Victoria Playhouse
June 25-July 28

Performed by
Francine Deschepper (Glenda), Debra Lynne McCabe (Suzanne), Helen Killorn (Beth), and Benton Hartley (Patrick)

Directed by
Ted Price

Written by
Kristen Da Silva

Supported by
Beckie Morris – Scenic Designer, Anne Laughlin, Kyra Harwood-Lister (stage managers)

The story
Comedy-drama, Where You Are, enacts profound themes of undulating relationships upon a backdrop of bawdy witticisms. A modern day story of lifetimes shared on rural Manitoulin Island, audiences are relocated to the small town porch of sisters, Glenda and Suzanne, a spot resplendent with florals, scurrying chickens and conversation. Enter Suzanne’s daughter, Beth, a visiting Doctor, and Patrick the local veterinarian, both with recently terminated nuptials. Youthfully diligent and conscientious, Patrick and Beth’s propriety fuel the dialogue’s devolution into coarseness, which is the natural tendency of Suzanne and Glenda, the maternal ‘town spinsters’. The actors shine comedically, in this “safe space to say bad things about people,” while grappling with heartbreak, relationships and terminal illness.

Loose lipped and love jilted, Suzanne is portrayed by Debra Lynne McCabe with dynamic force. Countered by Francine Deschepper as Glenda, the more deliberate and protective sister, who delights in dissecting the indelicacies of Sunday Mass. As lead characters, McCabe and Deschepper carry the dialogue and recount dramatic backstories flawlessly. The actors justify indulgent gossip for its comedic benefits and ego boosting properties, with dozens of wisecracks expertly coordinated and delivered by the entire cast. “Palette cleanser,” Patrick, the local veterinarian, is played by Benton Hartley. The only male actor, Hartley balances the romantic energies of the elder ladies and his own interest in Beth with integrity. Suzanne’s daughter, Beth, is played by Helen Killorn. As mother and daughter, McCabe and Killorn seamlessly alternate divisive and adherent reflections as they live and relive a conflictual but loving relationship. One questionable script element was numerous awkward comments made by Glenda and Suzanne about Beth’s anatomy. These demeaning comments attempted humour but added nothing except to detract from the character’s complexity. Confusing this banality, Deschepper demonstrates her breadth of skills as Glenda, interacting from the perspective of time restraint and finality. She savours her loved ones and the smell of the air, and leaves the audience members doing the same.

The Victoria Playhouse consistently offers divine theatre experiences and the 2019 production of Where You Are, persists in this tradition, providing lucky audiences with a witty and contemplative analgesic to the mundane.