The closing night of QMTC’s winter Midseason Festival was tonight, and it definitely went out with a bang. I only managed to see one of the shows, but Leave It Be, an original student-written piece by Megan Fellows, was hands down my favorite of the festival.
The play follows Danny Patterson, a young Irishman in 1946 who is struggling to come to terms with his mother’s abandonment of him at the age of three and his best-girl-friend-whom-he’s-secretly-in-love-with’s engagement to another man. The “I’m in love with the friend who’s been there all along” trope certainly isn’t new, of course, but the actors playing Danny and Gwen gave the relationship truth and energy. I appreciated that Paddy, Gwen’s fiance, was portrayed with depth and sympathy, and if anything was the more sympathetic of Gwen’s suitors.
Danny, meanwhile, was moody, irritable and unsure of himself, a character who is as profoundly relatable as he is antagonising. The minor characters shined just as much of the leads, with standouts such as Danny’s larger-than-life parents and his girlfriend whom he can’t stand, Dette. An ensemble piece with actors playing multiple roles and portraying a town rather than just individuals, there was no weak link in the acting department (except for maybe in terms of their Irish accents, but that I wouldn’t know).
Where this production scored highest, though, was in the incorporation of live music, dancing, and even real food on stage. The musicians, on stage throughout the entire performance, were phenomenal in their performance of traditional Irish music, while the accompanying dances were just plain fun. More abstract movement sequences were often a bit clunky, but were enacted with enough humor to make them forgivable.
If there was anything to truly criticise about this play, it is that it ends too soon and too suddenly; the boy gets the girl and all romantic conflict is immediately resolved. Given how much agonising we see from both Danny and Gwen throughout the play, their ultimate reunion felt just a little too simple, too easy. Maybe the playwright is planning on continuing, and maybe not, but I think there is more to the story here. Meanwhile, I was thrilled to see how well QMTC’s student playwrights held up, and am looking forward to joining them at the Writer’s Workshop this week.
(I promise I will write a post on this blog that is actually about me at some point relatively soon. Really.)