MonaRita (White Rooster Theatre) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

What is the difference between love and attachment? I’m sure neither Mona (Sarah Tilley) nor Rita (Ruth Lawrence) would purport to be able to answer that old chestnut, but they certainly take you through a very visceral, relatable emotional journey while contemplating the question.

In MonaRita two women, beset by various social and emotional pitfalls, learn to lean on each other in way that eludes the concept of boundaries. The crayon-bedecked flyers distributed at the end of the show announce that the show is particularly suited to moms. I would say that it is less well suited to those considering becoming moms.

Regardless of whether or not motherhood is a part of your experience you might well relate to the experience of feeling trapped and undone by a life that has been foisted upon you rather than chosen.

If you’ve ever struggled with issues of co-dependency some scenes might be painful to watch. Tilley’s performance as self-conscious, careworn Mona is vulnerable and impassioned. Lawrence’s confident, sexy, sassy, yet still woefully confused Rita is likeable, enviable and sad. The two-hander is comprised of various scenes; providing snapshots of their meetings interspersed by elapsed time.

Hair plays a key symbolic role in the show, consistent with the gendered themes of the narrative. Both hair and costumes were well facilitated. Clothes were used to question the relationship between one’s external presentation and private sense of self. I also had to laugh at myself a little when Rita, confronted with a mound of stunning formal shoes, laments: “none of these shoes are mine!”

White Rooster Theatre styles itself as a feminist shop. The themes explored are not earthshattering but certainly timeless.

MonaRita plays at Bathurst Street Theatre, venue 3.

– Playing

Wed, July 13 Noon 338
Thu, July 14 11:00 PM 351
Sat, July 16 5:45 PM 362
Sun, July 17 1:45 PM 367

Photo credit to Shannon Bramer . In photo: Ruth Lawrence and Sara Tilley

– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)

– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows