As The Trouble with Mr. Adams concluded and the curtain call began, I sat in the audience, clapping robotically, while trying to keep my feelings in check.
Yet there I was, somewhere between shedding a tear and throwing up that night’s dinner, reminding myself to keep my cool.
It was all over. But I wasn’t over it.
The world premiere of The Trouble with Mr. Adams, written by Gord Rand and directed by Lisa Peterson is packing the taboo into Tarragon’s Extraspace and testing the comfort levels of audience members.
The story goes as follows: Gary (Chris Earle) is in love with another woman. He and his wife Peggy (Philippa Domville) are getting a divorce, but little does Gary know that divorce papers won’t be the only legal documents he will have to deal with. To his unpleasant surprise, he is also being charged due to his inappropriate relationship with a minor. Turns out, the “other woman” in his love triangle wasn’t quite yet a woman...
Each act is like an individual train running you over, again and again. As the play progresses, we become increasingly aware of Gary’s desperation to relive his youth and his escalating mental health issues. He keeps trying to convince us that he’s sane – that he has it all together – but he keeps falling apart in front of us and we watch him ruin his own life and the lives of the people around him, one person at a time.
This production is not only completely impossible to look away from, but it does something very important. It tackles present-day relationship issues, personal issues and mental health issues, and drives them home with a very depressing, yet prominent, societal theme: we’re all constantly on the lookout for the next best thing.
We wait until the last act before we are graced with the presence of Gary's young love interest, Mercedes (Sydney Owchar), post-legal proceedings. Now, typically, at this point, the play can go either way. The long-awaited character can either blow us away, or make us wonder why we awaited this entrance for the entire duration of the show. Owchar, who is still pursuing her Bachelor's degree in acting, gives the most honest portrayal of Mercedes you can possibly imagine. She and Earle conclude the play with a jaw-clenching and perfectly disturbing third act.
Tarragon’s production does minimalism right. You have a nightmare-like script penetrating your brain for 80 minutes and four unbelievably brave and talented actors, reeling you into their entanglement and taking your stomach for a spin. None of the design elements are in your face, but you have the essentials – just enough to visually get the picture, but not enough for those elements to be a primary focus of the show – until the end, that is.
The play’s aesthetic elements, along with a completely unraveled Gary, creepily come together in the final few moments to create a deeply unsettling stage picture that is bound to remain etched in your mind for a very long time.
The Trouble with Mr. Adams plays at Tarragon Theatre until Nov. 29. For more information visit tarragontheatre.com