Review by Danny Gaisin
Six years ago, a couple, Jeff Kahn & Annabelle Gurwitch wrote a biographical comedy about their dating period and fifteen-year marriage. As a play, there are two performers and the audience somewhat sits as a marriage counselor hearing the diverse (and somewhat revisionist) recollections of that 20-year span, and the surprising reversal of usual male/female roles and attitudes. Portrayed by an actual married couple (23 years) Michael and Pudgy Quast try to be the epitome of the personalities they must represent. Succeed they certainly do!
W.E.S.T. stages a new & improved version of “You Say Tomato; I say ‘SHUT UP’”
He’s romantic; she’s mercenary; he’s horny; she’s practical; he idolizes; she analyzes. From impatience (him) to excuses & distraction (her); their 15th (alt-gift “salt) anniversary dinner looks like major disaster in the making. The audience hears about each one’s opinion as to intimacy; sexy underwear; farting and lactose intolerance. In other words, they are a stereotypical married couple…except for omitting a comment on the position of the toilet seat and whether the paper roll should feed from the top or the bottom (our own on-going debate). Director Yo Mustafa knew this iteration’s opening night was a success because he overheard departing couples making personal comparisons in their own lives as they left the theatre.
A simple stage with but two chairs and a fancy candlelit table with 2 glasses of Shiraz or Pinot Noir; the show belongs to the Quasts. Fortunately, they never interrupt each other’s monologues like most married couples do; thus letting the audience hear and appreciate the bon mots and clever comebacks expanded and underscored by the duos facial expressions and posturing. Quotable lines like “In order for you to be right and happy…I have to be wrong and sad”. Certainly an almost universal marital theme.
The 1¼ hour performance runs without a break but there is an explicit change of subject matter about midway through the performance. The opening concerns reminiscing about their 5-year courtship and diametrically opposite recollections. Then a hilariously funny skit-like bit representing his cutesy presentation of the engagement ring. The latter part of the discourse deals with sex, or in most cases No – or not enough SEX. In any case, every bit seems to either touch home or paraphrase on our own married lives. The audience will repeatedly laugh but the hilarity will be interspersed with moments of personal discomposure. After fifty-three years with Terry, BT,DT mirrors all the episodic moments portrayed on stage.
Mustafa and the Quasts fortunately only refer to the Kahn’s son Ezra as the delight both take after his birth. No reference to the actual young man’s VACTERL problems is made and certainly would not be crucial or necessary to the storyline. You Say Tomato; I say ‘SHUT UP’ will be at the Oakville Centre until Jan. 15th.
Note: Navy Street is now two-way in front of the theatre.