Tuesday Night Café Theatre (McGill)’s production of Ghost World, written and directed by McGill student Josie Teed, presents a theatre adaptation of Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel of the same title. Best friends Enid and Becky begin to make the transition from their teenage years into adulthood, while facing the decision of which aspects of their personalities they need to let go of in order to allow themselves to change and mature. With a dialogue that is extremely cynical and vulgar, this play is an interesting look at the psychology of young women during this transitional stage in life.
Enid (Beky Seltzer) and Becky (Sarah Foulkes) make witty yet rude remarks about everything and everyone around them, including each other, in a somberly comedic commentary of their environment. When Becky becomes aware of Enid’s plans to apply for college and potentially move away, it spurs the beginning of the decline of their friendship. Presented in a series of vignettes that connect to form a storyline, this original adaptation includes the vulgar and flippant dialogue filled with generational expressions found in the graphic novels. This style of dialogue is an important feature in the production, as it is the most revealing character aspect of two young women with low self-esteem who feel the need to push the boundaries of crudeness and discriminatory language to the point where their constant insults seem to no longer be about what they’re criticizing but rather about their need to criticize it. As we observe life from the cynical point of view of these two friends, several ensemble characters appear with their backs to the audience, creating faceless comical exaggerations of the typical kinds of people Enid and Becky encounter in their town.
Seltzer portrays Enid as the leader of the two friends, hiding emotion behind a hard shell by speaking with forced indifference, but showing vulnerability in moments alone on stage. As Becky, Foulkes participates in Enid’s offensive banter while allowing her character to be more emotionally honest, eventually questioning her best friend’s feelings. The two start off with an easy dynamic that carries the play and then evolves into more tense interactions. The three performers making up the ensemble cast have very good comedic characterizations, with each cast member playing at least two roles. Their somewhat over-the-top cartoonish performances enhance the contrast between the two leads and their perception of the absurd world around them.
With the stage divided into three sections, the lighting alternates between the sets of an outdoor bench, a café/restaurant table, and a bedroom. The set design (by Holly Hilts and Karlo Trost) is almost entirely pink and turquoise, reminiscent of the colouring of the graphic novel. The characters wear 90s style casual clothing, representing the decade in which the graphic novel takes place, and these costumes (by Sonya Peres) change slightly to show the passage of time while maintaining each of the two main characters’ distinct looks. Light background music is occasionally played to set the mood, without ever being too distracting, and pre-recorded sound used for the television and a phone conversation are perfectly on cue and well incorporated into the performance.
The desire to hang on to friendships might not always be enough to save them when going through important changes in life, as these friendships define the person we are growing away from. A successful student production, Ghost World is a relatable depiction of how two young women work through their insecurities and teenage angst in order to develop into the adults they want to be.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Contributing Editor Veronica Schnitzer
GHOST WORLD presented by Tuesday Night Café Theatre plays 4 more performances from October 19th-22nd at 8pm at McGill University’s Morrice Hall (3485 Rue McTavish, H3A 0E1). Tickets are $6-10 and can be purchased at the door or reserved via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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