Together in camping

Volcano Theatre’s new production is simple and quirky

A minimal number of props are used.
A minimal number of props are used.
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Award-winning Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor’s A Beautiful View is, at its simplest, an exploration of friendship. Beyond that, it’s a view of all the little events, coincidence, and choices that make up life.

In a chance encounter, two women learn they share a birthdate and a love of camping. This blooms into a beautiful friendship that spans their 20s and 30s.

Though neither woman identifies as lesbian or bisexual, they end up in an on-again-off-again relationship fueled by their widely differing personalities. Canadian actor Becky Johnson’s character is talkative with lots of “personality”, whereas fellow Canadian actor Amy Rutherford’s character is reserved and practical.

At times lyrical and dreamlike, and at other times a dose of reality, A Beautiful View fills the simple stage with a lifetime supply of stories and energy.

The only significant props on the floor-level stage are a tent and a radio but the German technology involved, which requires that cellphones be either turned off or in airplane mode during the show, makes the stage come alive. The lighting and sound effects create the illusion of the myriad settings require by the storyline.

From their first meeting at the camping equipment section of a store to forming a band that covers Pat Benatar songs with ukuleles, the two women go through phases of, “fun, confusion, misunderstanding, betrayal, longing for reconciliation, fear, and finally, death,” according to the play’s description on the Grand Theatre’s website.

German composer Krister Schuchardt’s musical score contributes to the feeling of the passing of time by evoking the natural fluctuations of emotions that go with life.

Through all this, they search for meaning and love and are always brought back together by camping.

The women impart quirky words of wisdom throughout the play including, “stop naming things” and “teach your children how to play guitar.”

A favourite line is the ambiguous, “Nothing is enough,” which can be understood positively as “Nothing is sufficient” or negatively as “Nothing is ever going to be enough” depending on one’s philosophy. One of the women confesses that she never really thought of the phrase positively until their friendship.

In the spirit of not naming things, the names and sexual orientation of the women are never given.

The play is slow to warm up and at times quite abstract, but with a little patience it proves surprising, funny, and thought-provoking.

Dark yet peaceful, the play ends in an ironic blend of the characters’ ideas on fear, death and art.

Overall, A Beautiful View is a must for theatre-goers who enjoy a good laugh and a profound thought or two.

A Beautiful View is on at the Baby Grand Theatre from March 12-23.

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