“Communion” @ Ottawa’s N.A.C. Studio. Reply

Review by Sharon Letovsky

 In this riveting play from Daniel MacIvor, one of Canada’s most respected playwrights, three women – a mother, a daughter and a therapist – are on the brink of change. We see Leda in her therapist’s office, desperately alternating between wringing her hands, crushing her handbag and crossing and uncrossing her legs. Clearly something is on her mind.

the cast - communicating!

When her psychotherapist- succumbing to Leda’s pressure and her own frustration, does the unthinkable and offers concrete advice, Leda acts on it. As we soon see, time is of the essence. As the plot unravels, we experience the women’s pain and inner strengths as they struggle with, love, relationships, and the meaning of life. This is the first production by the newly-formed KAZAN Co-op, and it comes to the NAC after rave reviews at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax.
               Kathryn MacLellan, co-founder of KAZAN and producer of this show, portrays a cool, rather stilted therapist. In her blue suit and red high heels, we see her desperate mask of detachment and professionalism. We can almost feel her gritting her teeth and burying her feelings in order to cope. Like Leda, the client in front of her, we wonder whether there is a real person inside. We get the sense that she might be wondering that too. 
               Jenny Munday’s Leda is brilliant. As an angry, frustrated, former alcoholic who is estranged from her daughter, she totally pulls us into her character. Feeling her pain and frustration, we wonder about her big secret. Like her therapist, we want to reach in and do something, but don’t know what. In the second part of the show, we see a complete character shift. Leda has come to terms with something; the depth of which is revealed during the play’s final scene. Munday is positively riveting as Leda. She brings a wealth of experience to this role, and boy, does it ever show!
               As Annie; Leda’s daughter Stephanie MacDonald is fresh and. Like Munday, she does a great job of portraying two very different sides of her character. We see a passionate highly-committed religious cult member, followed in the next scene by someone who has had an epiphany of a different sort, yet no less profound. Noteworthy is the contribution of director Linda Moore, who did a marvelous job of interpreting MacIvor’s work and guiding the actors to bring his work to life

   This play marks the first time the NAC English Theatre has presented a work by Siminovitch Prize-winner MacIvor.  “Communion” is a highlight of the NAC’s English theatre season and one of the best plays this reviewer has seen so far and is not to be missed. It runs until April 21st.

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