Relationships, courtship, and even sex, are an intricate and awkward dance. Even more so when the two women at the centre of it all are busy denying they are "lesbians." Fortunately playwright Daniel MacIvor's words and the expert timing of the effervescent cast of A Beautiful View, make it also deliriously comic and ultimately heartbreaking. The literal dance elements are less successful but it can't all be rocking out to Pat Benatar.
A Beautiful View tells the tale, and ultimate fate, of the doomed but delightful romance between two unnamed women. Amy Rutherford (Byblo and many, many other stellar performances) is the practical one and, as an unreliable narrator, she draws us in, giving the spark to a smouldering relationship that she wishes would burst into flames if she only had the nerve to strike the match. It is a tricky part - she is frequently required to break the fourth wall without breaking the reality of the surreal setting - and Rutherford takes a fractured narrative and guides the audience through a love story that we can't resist and are seriously invested in.
Becky Johnson has an uncanny ability to deliver a witty line with devastatingly hilarious results but with no apparent effort. Her character, the non-practical one, is trickier having the potential to be annoying and unsympathetic, but Johnson is so bubbly and alive that anyone, orientation be damned, would be attracted to her. We've all met that love/lust object who is obviously dangerous but utterly impossible to pass up. This gives us the key to the entire production: infatuation just happens, love just happens, and when one doesn't go with it, terrible things happen.
MacIvor's plays are consistently fascinating and laced with black comedy. A Beautiful View is no exception. They also often rely on split-second timing and an intense emotional investment. This production is simple, solid and uproariously funny. It only falls apart at the end when it stretches, using stylized dance movements, for a profundity it had already achieved. The characters debate the double meaning of the phrase, "Nothing is enough," but they had more than enough to work with in the basic text and this mis-step dampens rather than ruins the dramatic force of the denouement. Director Ross Manson may have been too enamoured with capital "A" art - this production's framework originated with an experimental German theatre company - and decided to climax an otherwise clever and concise distillation of a complicated play with an unnecessary garnish.
A Beautiful View is having a tragically short run before heading out on tour and should be enjoyed while one has the opportunity. MacIvor's Bingo! is upcoming but this chance to see one of his previous masterpieces should not be missed.