There's not much happening in My Turquoise Years

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      Adapted by M.A.C. Farrant from her memoir. Directed by Rachel Ditor. An Arts Club production. At the Granville Island Stage on Wednesday, April 10. Continues until May 4

      At intermission, I heard a couple of guys in the men’s room saying that they hoped something would happen in Act 2. By the end of the evening, I’m sure they were disappointed.

      In M.A.C. Farrant’s stage adaptation of her memoir, we meet a 13-year-old version of the author, who is living with her Aunt Elsie and Uncle Ernie on Cordova Bay, a few miles outside Victoria. Billy, Marion’s divorced dad, who is a cargo-ship captain, visits occasionally. And the proverbial substance hits the fan when Nancy, Marion’s glamorous, globetrotting mother, whom Marion hasn’t seen in eight years, announces by mail that she’s coming for a visit.

      Elsie is a nag who thinks it’s funny to reply to a comment from her husband: “Did someone speak? Or was that a dump truck going by?” But there’s no doubt that Elsie loves Marion and she’s terrified that Nancy might reclaim her.

      The material isn’t strongly plot-driven; its primary potential seems to lie in its observation of characters and relationships. Unfortunately, characters and relationships are presented coarsely in both the script and director Rachel Ditor’s production.

      Farrant renders male-female dynamics with the dramaturgical equivalent of stick drawings. Elsie and Ernie bicker repetitiously and the supposed crisis in their relationship is too transparent to add tension. Marion’s Aunt Maudie coddles her layabout adult son, Kenny, blaming herself for Kenny’s cold feet—she put his socks in the wrong drawer—and trotting off to fetch a hot-water bottle. It’s all too obvious to have any impact.

      And although there’s a lot of talent on-stage, Ditor often manages that talent poorly. Wendy Noel’s Elsie is full of feeling—and she’s genuinely touching at times—but Noel’s performance is loud and large. And Dawn Petten, who also takes the role of Maudie, turns Rae-Ella, a man-hating, cigarette-smoking hairdresser, into a cartoon. Director Ditor clearly wants Rae-Ella to be a caricature—the costume includes an enormous butt—but, stylistically, Rae-Ella is weird: she seems to have wandered in from The Simpsons.

      Speaking of stylistic inconsistencies, the men in the cast perform a full Elvis number, for no apparent reason, in Act 2. And during a transition, Elsie and Ernie move furniture while dancing lasciviously. It is, as the kids say, random. In a more predictable mistake, Farrant crams chunks of literary description into Marion’s mouth.

      Still, there are positives. Marion could look like a whiner but Bridget Esler brings no-nonsense intelligence—as well as credible innocence—to the role. Georgina Beaty is also charmingly pubescent as Marion’s pal, Jenny. The first-act scene in which Marion and Jenny discuss sex—“Think what you’d have to do if you were married. You’d have to haul out your boobs all the time”—is the highlight of the evening. For once, two interesting characters are talking to one another.




      Apr 12, 2013 at 7:27am

      I haven't seen it, but for once I'm inclined to believe it. But with the sort of crowd-pleasing fluff the Arts Club produces who's surprised?


      Apr 14, 2013 at 10:11am

      Over acted. Bad script. Lame "jokes". Deteriorates into bad vaudeville in Act 2. The people to the right and in front of me fell asleep. I nodded off. Not good.