Grande Midlife Mocha Latte (1978 Bad Ass Bitches) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of woman with latteGrande Midlife Mocha Latte, produced by 1978 Bad Ass Bitches, is a one-woman show that still manages to develop a wide range of characters with rich backstories. Watching it, I felt the wonderful magic that occurs when great writing and superb performance come together. If you are interested in seeing any plays at the Toronto Fringe Festival, I would place this gem high on your list.

I can’t say I’ve ever been interested in seeing a one-person show. I’m not the biggest fan of excessive monologuing and don’t relish the thought of watching a full production that is mostly just that.

Thankfully, Christina Marouchou did a tremendous job developing chemistry with the audience and the unseen auxiliary characters. Sometimes, I felt like I wasn’t watching a show, but rather catching up with an old friend. It was the way Marouchou would maintain eye contact and make you feel the emotional tensions of her characters.

Grande Midlife Mocha Latte is divided into segments focusing on five different women, all played by Marouchou, in rotation. Marouchou does a spectacular job creating each of the characters as distinct people. I would compare her performance to Tatiana Maslany’s in Orphan Black or Toni Collette’s in United States of Tara.

This is brilliantly paired with Angela Matich’s superb writing and direction. Matich has an ability to set up high emotional stakes in an organic and creative manner. The set design was particularly notable. On the stage was a coatrack where all of the costumes for each of the characters were hung. While most shows do a traditional blackout for costume changes, a spotlight kept flashing on the coatrack. The audience could watch Marouchou physically change into each character. I thought this was an interesting stylistic choice that worked really well and showcased the amount of thought put into every aspect of this show.

For me, the most amazing thing about Grande Midlife Mocha Latte was that there was no universal reaction to it. Whatever emotions the play incited would depend on your own experiences.

For example, one of the main plot threads was about a gay woman who struggled to receive her mother’s genuinely acceptance. She talked about how her mother, while outwardly supportive of her homosexuality, was still uncomfortable around the topic. She then discussed introducing her girlfriend, Rachel, to her mother.

At first, she hid the fact that Rachel was her girlfriend and simply introduced her as a friend. The mother ended up taking a liking to Rachel, but quickly realized that Rachel and her daughter were more than just friends. The woman then talked to her unseen mother and started feeling the indescribable joy of her mother finally approving of her lifestyle.

I cried at this scene, and I need to emphasize that it is very difficult to make me cry. I was happy for Marichou’s character. I had empathized with her so much and became so emotionally invested in this story that her mother’s acceptance almost felt like a personal success. Of course, I would find this particular story meaningful since I come from the perspective of a gay man who is still not out to his mother. I don’t know if she’ll ever truly approve of me or my potential future partner, but I thought about how amazing it would feel if she ever did.

In another scene, the same character is now married to Rachel. She started discussing having children with her mom. Basically, the mom was pushing grandchildren on the newlyweds. A woman sitting next to me reacted strongly to this scene, laughing hard when no one else did. I can only imagine that there was some personal experience which made that specific situation relatable.

This isn’t the only story Grande Midlife Mocha Latte had to offer. There was also the story of a divorcée getting her life back together, a mother dealing with the stress of having a family, a career-oriented woman confident with her choice not to pursue marriage or children, and a woman is experiencing depression after numerous miscarriages. Each of these stories are wonderfully written, full of detail, resonance and emotion. They each carry the ability to illicit a wide variety of strong emotions from the audience.

Throughout Grande Midlife Mocha Latte, I laughed and cried. I felt hopeful, devastated, awe-struck, and disappointed. In the end, I felt great joy and a deep appreciation for life in general. It’s a touching play that represents the best that the Toronto Fringe Festival has to offer.

Details

  • Grande Midlife Mocha Latte plays at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. (79 St. George St.)
  • Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warnings: Unsuitable for Minors, Sexual Content, Mature Language.
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible.

Performances

  • Friday July 7th, 04:45 pm
  • Saturday July 8th, 08:45 pm
  • Monday July 10th, 06:15 pm
  • Tuesday July 11th, 08:15 pm
  • Thursday July 13th, 12:00 pm
  • Saturday July 15th, 11:00 pm
  • Sunday July 16th, 01:45 pm

Photo provided by company.

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