By Daniel MacIvor
Neptune Studio Theatre, Halifax
February 8, 2012
“It’s not the answer we can’t hear, it’s the question we won’t ask.”
So begins Daniel MacIvor’s Communion, running until February 19 at Neptune Studio Theatre in Halifax, a sobering three-act exploration of love, loss, regret and the all-too human quest for certainty and connection.
Jenny Munday carries the day as Leda, a cranky, but loveable recovering alcoholic who is dying of cancer. When she shares that “all of my life I have been waiting”, Leda speaks to the moments between anticipation and event, and to the blur between birth and death.
Her sessions with her lesbian therapist Carolyn, played dutifully by Kathryn MacLellan, also address gender gaps and the changing roles of women over a single generation.
Likewise, Leda’s efforts to reconnect with her estranged daughter Ann (Stephanie MacDonald) testify to both the burned bridges in our lives, and to the breach between the ardent idealism of youth and the malleability of middle-age.
In the final act, Carolyn and Ann meet following Leda’s death in an attempt to find common ground and answers. In a compelling climax, each comes to understand that it is our connections – our human connections - that fill the spaces in between in our lives.
Although often overloaded with idea and emotion, the narrative never mires down in melancholia. Instead, MacIvor is wise to show his Cape Breton roots with tidbits of homespun humour, offsetting the work’s weighty tone.
The production’s true strength, however, sits in the silence between the lines – amidst the tension of things left unsaid.
While Communion is surely not for the faint of soul, it a stirring and satisfying work, and one that serves to remind us that perhaps the reasons we go grey are because things are no longer as black and white as they once were. ~SPC