On the SummerWorks webpage, the rollover blurb for Call me Scotty’s production of Don’t Talk to Me Like I’m Your Wife is “If the word Feminism makes you cringe, this isn’t the play for you”. This is very good advice. If, however, you’re interested in a nuanced discussion of modern feminism, its approach to history and the importance of intersectionality not to mention a well acted and written play, this is very much a play for you.
Jumping between 1917 where Mata Hari languishes in prison for suspected espionage and the modern day where a professor and his student discuss Mata Hari’s place in history and the complexities that come from examining her from a feminist perspective, Don’t Talk to Me Like I’m Your Wife is one of those plays that veers dangerously close to becoming a didactic lecture hiding as a performance piece.
What saves it from such a fate however is the writing of Andrea Scott and the characters she creates; yes almost every conversation is in some way a discussion that touches on an aspect of the feminist debate, but those arguments emanate from well realized characters that feel like they come from a real place. Even in the modern sequences which are overtly a debate it still feels like a conversation between two people as opposed to simply the playwright’s mouthpieces. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the cast works with the text beautifully, giving honest and real performances that match the script.
On the nature of the cast, I feel it is important to mention that David Christo, who was originally supposed to play all the male roles in the play, suffered a bike accident that left him in a wheelchair and limited him to simply playing the professor role. As much as I wish he hadn’t been injured for his health’s sake, I actually feel having him in said wheelchair gave the play an extra Intersectional edge that had they had more time to adjust the script could have allowed some examination of ableism. Nevertheless it was good to see a character with visible mobility issues, even if the circumstances that led to it are unfortunate.
One thing that I should probably point out (if you haven’t figured it out already) is that I’m a student of feminism and consider myself a proud Ally, both of which gave me a certain ease of access into some of the more academic aspects of the subject matter the play explores. Some people who aren’t so initiated might find those aspects rather hard to approach. I still recommend those people give this play a shot as the Mata Hari sequences require no such advance knowledge and they give enough context for the modern sequences in terms of what is being explored that I think it becomes a piece that everyone can understand, even if some things can still be a little daunting.
Don’t Talk To Me Like I’m Your Wife plays at the Theatre Centre Mainspace (1115 Queen Street W)
- Thursday, August 4th, 7:15 – 8:45 PM
- Saturday, August 6th, 6:30 – 8:00 PM
- Tuesday, August 9th, 5:00 – 6:30 PM
- Wednesday, August 10th, 6:45 – 8:15 PM
- Thursday, August 11th, 8:00 – 9:30 PM
- Saturday, August 13th, 4:00 – 5:30 PM
- Sunday, August 14th, 8:45 – 10:15 PM
Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Live Art Series tickets are free – $20. Tickets are available online at http://summerworks.ca, By phone at 888-328-8384, Monday – Friday 8:30am-5pm, in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 4-16 from 10am-7pm (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows
Photo courtesy of the company