Originally published May 10, 2017
Fantasy, reality, memory -- three states of mind that Lois Brown tangles together in her most recent work, "Drinking Again."
Presented as part of the annual Women's Work Festival, "Drinking Again" opened at the LSPU Hall on Tuesday to an attentive audience.
The play, which takes place in a bar, ditched the theatre in favour of its Second Space, opting to use the LSPU Hall's own bar as its stage and setting.
With chairs lining each wall, and small bistro sets scattered throughout the room, carefully placed lights illuminated the room, following the characters we were about to meet.
In a smart business suit, Donna (played by Alison Woolridge) slams back glass after glass.
Bartender Bruce (Darryl Hopkins) understands her non-verbal request for another refill.
The bartender and the barfly -- a delicate relationship often built on conversation, trust, and enablement. From both the dialogue and the body language, it's obvious that this isn't Bruce's first drunken evening with Donna, a firecracker who never shuts up -- an issue that has put her in the mess she's in.
Donna is stuck in a huge web of lies she has spun.
The extremely tall tale involves a fake husband, fake twin children, a fake company, and more. As her lies grew, Donna had to keep up. A fake husband was hired, a fake company was actually created -- with sub-contractors, assistants and all -- and soon, real, tangible items began to crop up from the falsehoods.
It's a heavy burden to bear, and keep track of, but Donna isn't ready to come clean.
The conversations are reminiscent of the kinds of stories you hear in bars -- embellished half-truths, or the entertaining version of an average, regular, recounted tale.
In this show, Lois Brown is exploring the concept of lying, and the idea that for some people, lies can become truths -- they are born of circumstance, they are pushed into existence, or in some cases, the lies become real simply because someone believes in them.
This is what makes this approximately 40-minute long show so interesting. In that short time period, we join Donna through a drunken mental journey, unsure if we are experiencing reality, a memory, or just a part of this twisted fantasy that Donna has created and shared.
The last five minutes of the play really hurl you into another dimension, making you question every detail of the show you just saw.
With a focus on embracing audience feedback, the play ended with an open discussion on what we had seen. Listening carefully to see if my own questions would be answered, I
still left confused -- after listening to the discussion, chatting with the writer/director, picking the brain of attendee Ruth Lawrence, and even point blank asking an actor whether or not their character actually existed.
Twelve hours later, I'm still asking questions to myself. If you like to be pushed outside of your mental comfort zone, I highly recommend this show. It's a trip.