2015 Next Stage Festival Review: Mine (Discord and Din Theatre)

Mine-Michelle-Polak-Jenna-Harris

As Mine begins a confident, smooth-talking woman in tight pants approaches a charmingly awkward woman with overtly seductive intentions. Then they transform into the same confident smooth-talking woman, Abigail (Michelle Polak), who is a Teaching Assistant for a poetry class, and the charmingly awkward woman, Bea (Jenna Harris), who is a student. Discord and Din‘s production, presented as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival, traces these women’s romantic relationship with humour and honesty. Jenna Harris, who is also the playwright, said in NOW Magazine that she wrote this play based on “my own life experiences and what I observed around me” and the situations and dynamics in the play certainly felt familiar to me.

I find it refreshing that there are more and more stories where queerness is a given, not an issue. There is still, of course, an important place for tales of coming out and experiencing homophobia, but our day-to-day lives aren’t filled with those things (if we are lucky.) We now have room for narratives that focus on the intricacies of our relationships, just like straight people have always had. Mine is a heartfelt look at one such romantic relationship; we watch Abigail and Bea fall in love, move in together, grow codependent and have arguments. They are, as we all are, different people with different needs, priorities and modes of communication. In this case the differences include that Abigail is a gregarious party person and Bea is a socially anxious homebody, and that Abigail has fraught connections to her ex, her family and her writing while Bea is engrossed in her work as a psychologist, working late and over-analyzing Abigail’s expressions of emotion.

The show felt very authentic, and the moments of comedy – drawn primarily from Bea’s interjections in moments of nervousness and from the two’s sexual escapades – emphasized the poignancy of their troubled love. As the story draws to a close, we return to that opening bar scene, with the incarnations of Abigail and Bea that we originally met, and the trajectory of their relationship becomes clear.

The set is as much of a a star as the two performers, for a bibliophile like me. Jenna McCutchen has designed a set that features books – great glorious piles of books! – as the façades for two tall tables and a low, wide bench. These represent Abigail’s love of poetry and her writerly aspirations, but they also just look great.

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Photo of Michelle Polak and Jenna Harris by Tanja Tiziana

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