By Alleah Boisvert
Attention, theatre buffs! It’s not too late to catch Pyretic Productions’ Michael Mysterious at La Cite Francophone. If you haven’t seen any live theatre since last summer’s Fringe Festival, now is the chance to sit down for an emotional performance that will move you to sit with your feelings on what it means to be a family.
Written by award-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Simon Brown and directed by co-founder of Edmonton’s Common Ground Art Society, Patrick Lundeen, this performance is an honest rendition of family dynamics and the idea that there is a first time for everything. Starring Edmonton-born performer Gavin Dyer as Michael, the story follows outcast Michael into a new living situation after his grandmother passes away. He ends up living with his estranged middle school friend Jeremy (Tom Tunski) after Jeremy’s mother Arlene (Amber Borotsik) affectionately takes Michael in as one of her own. Arlene’s boyfriend Paul (Jesse Gervais) and his daughter July (Christina Nguyen) also live in the household, and it makes for a complicated living situation that Michael, as the quiet wallflower of the family, sees play out.
Filled with awkward dinner table conversations, this candid performance makes viewers feel like they are sitting at the dinner table simply listening, as Michael does. An interesting aspect of this performance is that Michael knows he is just a wallflower, but often quietness can be wrongly mistaken for weirdness, which makes for some character realizations and experimentations with new things to fit in. Although it depicts typically blended family archetypes, Michael Mysterious also touches on gender roles within a family and how even family members who hold a patriarchal position need tenderness.
The transparent and effective set design by Stephanie Batniuk lets viewers see the ins and outs of the family’s home and allows them to see some of the emotions kept hidden away from the rest of the family behind closed doors. Theatregoers are inspired to find a little bit of each character to relate to after getting to know them on a deeper level. The most significant aspect to Michael Mysterious is the feeling audiences will get from sitting in on intimate and emotional family moments as an outsider, much like the way Michael does as the adoptee of the family.
Although there are some light-hearted moments, Michael Mysterious mostly deals with heavy topics such as loss, anger and control, family fights, and substance abuse, so audiences should know this beforehand. Tickets to this riveting live performance can be purchased the Tix on the Square website up until October 24th, the last day Michael Mysterious is being performed. For more information on Pyretic Productions’ Michael Mysterious, visit their webpage.