REVIEWS OF MERMAID PARADE'S PRODUCTION AT THE RED SANDCASTLE THEATRE, MARCH 2012

On the production

Mermaid Parade’s production of This Wide Night proves that great theatre can happen anywhere.

Jon Michaelson has directed the two actors with great sensitivity and insight. A play like this about constantly, subtly shifting aspects of a relationship will only work with strong performances from both performers. And both Astrid Van Wieren and Claire Burns are absolutely superb.

Christopher Hoile, Stage-door

“Jon Michaelson’s direction also adds to that bleak, yet vivid world. For 90 minutes we are in that world too.

As Lorraine, Astrid Van Wieren is very energetic, almost urgent in her movements and concern for Marie. There is a sense of desperation to hang on and get a grip, as well as to keep on Marie’s good side...It’s a very compelling performance.

Equally as compelling in her performance is Claire Burns as Marie. She has her own tics and idiosyncrasies. Marie is the more mysterious of the two women because we know so little about how she has coped.

Both Van Wieren and Burns work beautifully together, creating that tenuous, careful, tentative world of these two fragile, damaged women. While Lorraine and Marie are hard-nosed British women, the story could be about anywhere. This Wide Night is a tough play, well done.

Lynn Slotkin, The Passionate Playgoer

“Honest, humorous, and heartbreaking is just what This Wide Night is all about....Well-developed characters, and raw and moving performances. The actors do incredible work.

Astrid Van Wieren’s portrayal of the fearful Lorraine is funny, endearing, and raw. Claire Burns in the role of Marie, shows the vulnerability, isolation and naivety of a person destined to return to life on the streets. Both actors create strong, believable characters reminding us of their humanity and society’s inhumanity in taking the proper measures to ensure successful re-integration.”

Adelina Fabiano, Mooney on Theatre

On the play and its relevance and import

Playwright Chloë Moss looks at two women as they struggle to cope with being outside prison in England. Lorraine and Marie were cellmates when they both did time in prison. They shared secrets, raw emotions, histories and in a sense intimacies. Lorraine is old enough to be Marie’s mother. Whether their relationship was sexual or not is not as important as the fact that they depended and trusted each other.

Each has her secrets. Playwright Moss is very stingy with information about the two. What provoked Lorraine’s crime? Why was Marie in jail? But Moss gives us just enough information for us to fill in the blanks while we keep guessing and questioning.

Moss has presented us with a world that is bleak, and I sense, real. She takes us into a world one rarely knows about—the life of a woman just out of prison. How do they cope? How do they remain brave and tenacious?

While Lorraine and Marie are hard-nosed British women, the story could be about anywhere. Lynn Slotkin, The Passionate Playgoer

“The play has no conventional plot. Instead, it is a highly detailed, compassionate look at two women who were “best mates” in one setting trying to determine how bound they are to each other in this new one.

They bring home without preaching of any kind that the idea of resuming a “normal” life after time in prison is an idea people hold who have never experienced its reality. Lorraine and Marie may now technically be “free”, but Moss makes its achingly clear that neither feels “free” in the complex world outside or knows how to act as if they were.“

Christopher Hoile, Stage-door

This Wide Night reminded me of the constant struggle of ex-offenders to re-build a life of their own again. I knew little about the playwright Chloe Moss, and little about this particular text, but it inspires me to know that in its own unique way it is giving voice to a marginalized group of women whose stories are not always heard.”

Adelina Fabiano, Mooney on Theatre

On the locale

“I first saw THIS WIDE NIGHT in its Canadian premiere production when it played at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace last year. It’s now moved to a site-specific ‘theatre’ in a Queen Street East store front. The location and rough and ready aspect of the space adds to the grittiness of this already gritty play.

Lynn Slotkin, The Passionate Playgoer

“Presented in a storefront on Queen Street East, it provides the most authentic atmosphere to set this powerful drama. I simply felt like a fly on the wall. Set designer Lindsay Ann Black captured the reality of Marie’s world. For me, the set acted very much like a cell block which the women once inhabited, but now a place to re-establish their friendship.”

Adelina Fabiano, Mooney on Theatre

"The Red Sandcastle Theatre is a storefront venue seating about 50 people on stackable chairs. The bathroom that the characters refer to in the play is the actual bathroom for the theatre and to get to it you have to cross the set. Does this fairly gritty set-up in any way diminish the play being performed? No. In fact, the very grittiness of the theatre itself and of Lindsay Anne Black’s Salvation Army-furnished set only enhances the realism of the drama."

Christopher Hoile, Stage-door

SOME REACTIONS to MERMAID PARADE's Canadian premiere of THIS WIDE NIGHT at Theatre Passe Muraille's Backspace in July of 2011:

MEDIA
“There's lots to admire in this production, which captures the script's black humor as well as much of its tension." NNN (Recommended; memorable scenes)
-Jon Kaplan, Now Magazine.

"This Wide Night is given a powerful production by Mermaid Parade. The 90-minute two-hander magnetizes. Lindsay Ann Black's realistic, compact set, Conley and Derr's sound design, Astrid Van Wieren and Claire Burns' first class performances, and Jon Michaelson's astute direction, make This Wide Night a night to remember."
-Jeniva Berger, scenechanges.ca

AUDIENCE COMMENTS
"Two well directed stunning actors. Honest, straightforward theatre. No kitsch, no melodrama, no Hollywood style emotional indoctrination. In the raw British theatre tradition."
-Antje Budde, University of Toronto; MA, PhD, Humboldt University of Berlin

“Smart Rough-Theatre.”
-Paul Thompson, Director/ founding AD of Theatre Passe Muraille

“The company has created a piece that cuts through the mundane and strikes at the core of humanity, exposing our fundamental need for comfort and companionship, for understanding and affirmation. These women are not the super cool ex-cons we see in movies but are real women with real needs, hopes and dreams for a better life.
Astrid Van Wieren and Claire Burns, both impeccably cast in their roles, allow us to witness Lorraine and Marie's struggle from the inside out. There is great poignancy to the lives of these women and we as an audience are left with feeling both empathy and a strong desire to see them succeed.
It is not often that I leave the theatre with the wish that I could do something more for the society I live in. After seeing this production, I exited the theatre feeling just that.”
-Anita La Selva, Director (MFA, York University Directing program for advanced theatre artists.)

“I had the privilege of watching the Canadian Premiere of "This Wide Night" at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. Having previously seen the American premiere in New York I attended the performance knowing what to expect. What I found was a new perspective on a piece filled with indelible character interpretation and powerful direction that brilliantly balanced intimacy and theatricality.
The Red Sandcastle is a perfect venue to enhance this piece. It will provide a unique opportunity to witness these very fine performances at close quarters.
Chloë Moss' work is part of a new wave of edgy female playwriting from the UK, and in this case, the toughness of the material, and the maturity and vibrancy of her characterizations have been matched by the skill and sensitivity of this cast and their director.”
-Evan Tsitsias, Member, Tarragon Theatre, 2011 Playwrights Unit; Artistic Director, Co-founder, Directors Lab North; Member, Lincoln Center Directors Lab

Reviews of the Script

....................RAW AND RIVETING

"The piece is beautifully written: comic, colourful, full of pain and tenderness and truth. Chloë Moss has a flair for dialogue and characters that are both quirky and utterly authentic"
-The Times, UK

....................A LITTE PLAY WITH A BIG BRUISED HEART

"One of the pleasures of Chloë Moss' play is that it deals as much in ambiguities as it does in well-worn certainties. The writing is as tender as a wound and full of emotional texture that makes it utterly believable."
-The Guardian, UK

....................STUNNING AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING

"Chloë Moss' play is a sympathetic and very real portrayal of the life women face coming out of prison. The complexity of the two characters and the understanding of their situation are testimonies to Moss' ability to create such high-powered drama."
-
Curtain Up, London

....................BEAUTIFUL AND NECESSARY

"Ms. Moss' script is without the shrill, self-conscious worthiness that sometimes cripples productions with social mandates. The play is shaped with compassion, but there is never even an echo of special pleading. Ms. Moss' goal is to convey, in visceral terms, the disorientation of lives resumed after rending, warping interruptions. And you don't have to have done time to identify with Lorraine and Marie's addled, anguished sense of time."
-New York Times
PRESS CONTACT: Jennifer Radford, STAF
416.703.2773 ext. 202
jennifer.radford@theatreadmin.com