Toronto show has potentially great actors lost in “deeply flawed” writing, and reinforces stereotypes
It’s (Kind Of) A Love Story, produced by Tree Of Life Theatre rankled me right away , as it opens with a scene of pure fatphobia. Michael (JaeMoon Lee) is joking to his best friend Alison (Ellie Posadas) about his desire to become “morbidly obese”, which goes on for what felt like five minutes. Thankfully, it elicited no laughs on opening night, as it is far from funny to stigmatize a particular body type.
I tried to give the show the benefit of my doubt, but before long there was heteronormativity and gender binarism, with Everywoman (Denise Norman) assuring Alison that it is impossible for a man and a woman to ever be platonic friends. If this was the misguided opinion of one character, that would be one thing, but the show continues on with this as its thesis, as Alison and Michael fall into dysfunctional love.
I see a lot of shows about straight people and that’s fine. Straight people exist, they have stories that I can consume and enjoy. But they don’t have to aggressively erase my existence and the existence of my friends. If a man and a woman can’t be friends because there’s necessarily sexual tension, then am I, as a bisexual woman, not able to have friends at all? And where do non-binary people fit into this equation?
I also did not care enough about the characters to be invested in their twisted romance. They both behave horrendously. Michael, for example, threatens to call Alison’s boyfriend to make him jealous about them being together. Alison, for her part, toys with Micheal’s feelings for her, even to the point of sexually assaulting him when her boyfriend dumps her.
Everywoman literally stands in for every other character, all of whom are women who hold influence with Alison. Unfortunately, none of them have any sage advice to impart, just cliches that reinforce stereotypical gender roles. Norman does, however, bring a sense of physical grace to the role. It was pleasant to watch her move, even if the words she was given to speak didn’t say much.
Lee and Posadas’s interactions have a lovely physicality that, funnily enough, seem comfortable in a friendship sort of way. I think these young actors have room to grow, and that Norman is potentially very skilled, but they were all hampered by a deeply flawed script.
The venue is interesting, and would befit a bigger production. It’s tucked away off Richmond Street East, up many stairs, and features concrete walls and exposed ventilation pipes, A dance party, dance show, or a production with a larger cast and/or more focus on movement, would have made better use of the space.
- It’s (Kind Of) A Love Story t’s (Kind Of) A Love Story, plays until November 26th at The Commons, 190 Richmond St East (2nd floor)
- Showtimes are Tuesday to Saturday at 8 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm
- Tickets are $12 – $17 and are available online
Photo provided by the company