2014 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: A Misfortune (Common Descent)

A Misfortune - Next Stage Theatre Festival

Stunning performances delivered in A Misfortune playing at Toronto’s Next Stage Theatre Festival

A Misfortune, a musical based on a Chekhov short story, which opened yesterday as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival is an example of the impressive level of theatre talent in Toronto. Everything about the show works beautifully.

Sofya (Trish Lindstrőm) is young, romantic, and feeling vaguely unhappy in her marriage to Andrey (Réjean Cournoyer) who is old and eminently practical. She has spent the summer talking, laughing, and flirting with Ivan (Jordan Till), a young lawyer who is spending the summer in the area.

Ivan declares his love for her and asks her to go away with him. Sofya replies that she had no idea he felt that way and that she just wants to be friends.

That evening Andrey tells her that he has invited Ivan to join them and their friends Masha (Kaylee Harwood) and Pavel (Adam Brazier) – who have just come back from Paris – for drinks.

The songs and dialogue are witty thanks to book and lyrics by Kevin Shea, lyrics by Wade Bogert-O’Brien and music by Scott Christian.

All of the actors give give superb nuanced, layered performances; every tiny gesture adds to the story. Director Evan Tsitsias knows the value of small gestures and he keeps our attention by having the cast move around on stage rather than sitting to have drinks.

I keep thinking about the set and how beautiful it was. Joanna Yu designed it and the costumes. A lovely big set of French doors separates the indoor space from the outside. I really liked that the musicians – Chris Tsujiuchi on piano and Brian Holt on cello – were behind the window at the back of the stage, a part of the piece but a bit hidden. Even the lighting – by Andrew Smith, was beautiful.

A Misfortune is like a puzzle where every piece fits perfectly. Definitely worth seeing.

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Photo of (Front l-r) Trish Lindstrőm, Réjean Cournoyer, Kaylee Harwood, Jordan Till, and Adam Brazier. (Rear l-r) Brian Holt and Chris Tsujiuchi by Dan Epstein