Review: Baggage. (Green with Envy Productions)

Theatre that unpacks your Baggage at the Black Swan in Toronto.

Knowing I was headed to a play entitled Baggage. was all I needed to kick-start my own reflections.

Hard not to. The play’s about two individuals stuck in an airport: a wannabe writer heading reluctantly to his own “m… m… m… marriage,” and a woman who pushes past his superficial joking to start asking the big question; Why?

This play about love and relationships, which had a two-night showing at the Black Swan before heading to Winnipeg Fringe next month, takes place in the most baggaged of environments – an airport lounge. Delayed flights and anonymity give Ava (Renee Strasfeld) and Noah (Thomas MacKay) the chance to open up about their lives.

Which is something familiar to all of us: both the opening up, and the chance encounters that sometimes make it easier to do so.

But what’s at the crux of this production is how we make our relationships work – or not. The play is our divorce-prone society in a crucible, except that the big bad divorce word never shows up – rather the production explores why we end up where we do (divorce or failed relationships).

Like Ava and Noah, many of us don’t recognize what we have, or figure out too late what we require. And we also like to imagine that good, movie-like relationships require minimal effort, which is also why we end up getting a less than satisfactory movie-like reality.

Writer Kelly Aija Zemnickis manages to wrap the whole heavy theme in comedy, so that we’re laughing as Noah’s phone doesn’t work (“Dead battery! Fuck my life!”) while simultaneously feeling for Ava, who retracts into the past and better days with Jack (Kris Siddiqi).

Which is also where the zinger lies, which I won’t divulge. Let’s just say that in real life, things may not be exactly as they appear. And what we want and need can oftentimes obscure the view.

Before heading to this play I did mental rundowns of everyone I know. Where were they on the relationship spectrum? After the zinger I gave them – and myself – a break. It’s hard work, being in a relationship. Especially when you consider the baggage.


– Baggage played at the Black Swan (154 Danforth Ave) from June 19-20