Remember, Maggy? (Maggy Productions) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

The thing I enjoyed the most about Remember, Maggie? is that extraordinary mother-son writing duo Carol Anne and Matt Murray did not feel obliged to tie off all the loose ends at the show’s conclusion.

Remember, Maggie? was a lot like real relationships: painful, funny, unresolved, disquieting and beautiful. In this performance, a sister learns that loving someone does not make them a good person, and that a blood connection does not a sister make.

The script was surprisingly funny for a play that is certainly no comedy. Alzheimer’s and drug addiction are usually no laughing matters, nor is total family breakdown. Despite the heavy subject matter, the punch-lines are laugh out loud funny (no other way to say it) and the comedic timing demonstrated by the four clearly experienced and gifted actresses was superb.

The program claims the show is “like Golden Girls, with addiction and Alzheimer’s.” I don’t really get that. The story centred on forty-something women, with the exception of the aging mother. And I wouldn’t say the narrative was particularly sexy, although relationships of all kinds are certainly covered.

The artistic direction did an inspired job of creating diverse scenes and moods set in essentially one location. Once the premise is established, the only movement from the pivotal location is brief and uncomfortable.

The use of props within a single set was stunningly effective. Transitions, the lapse of time and shifts in power dynamics were cunningly communicated by changes to accessories on the stage. The movement of a prop from the stage into a drawer spoke volumes.

We also learned a great deal about our heroines’ and anti-heroines’ priorities based on what they were wearing on crucial days, the days we’ll remember when we’re 80; even if we do have Alzheimer’s. We get to be flies on the wall for these intimate, life-changing moments.

Don’t let the fact that you laugh your way through the entire show deceive you, you will walk away thinking about how you might behave when it’s time to put mum in the home.

At the end of the performance Joan Gregson (Niahm Ryan) announced that Remember, Maggie? has been selected for Best of Fringe.

Details:

Remember, Maggie? plays at venue 2 Tarragon Theatre Extra Space

– Remaining performance: Sat, July 16 10:30 PM 265

– 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