Review by Norah Pendergast
A new play, Lights, written and directed by Alix MacLean, tells the story of a Charlottetown girl who re-learns the facts of life when she moves to a metropolis for university. Toronto offers diverse developmental influences to Mickey, the impressionable young heroine.
“Micheala” (Mickey) and “Ben” are long time best friends who make the milestone move together. The play depicts the course of Mickey’s first year of university. Dawn Doiron stars in the role of “Mickey,” and Ian Dunsford is “Ben.” Neighbors, “Jodi” and “Leila,” are played by Diana Love and Laura Pineau. The cast of main characters is completed by Colin Moore as “Simon,” a Frenchman who finds his joie de vivre at the bottom of wine bottles.
When Ben confesses his love for her, Mickey panics and “comes out” to avoid rejecting him. In her efforts at damage control, Mickey convinces Jodi, a true lesbian, to pretend to be her girlfriend. The charade is maintained for three months, while unbeknownst to the loveable Mickey, Jodi falls for her. Mickey’s lie gains momentum until it explodes. Mistakes result in lessons which bring new found maturity. Upon learning that honesty is best, and that “the real world is nothing but a fairytale that parents tell their kids,” Mickey is true to herself and finds peace.
A memorable aspect of Lights, which is two hours long, was the performance of nine songs by Diana Love and Ian Dunsford. The characters frequent a local open mic, where they bare their souls acoustically. Some of the play’s most powerful moments take place during these songs, borrowed from local and international song-writers. Diana Love has a wonderful voice, and it is excellent when she and Ian Dunsford play and sing together. David Bowie has a reoccurring presence and sets the mood when his picture is the first image presented to the audience. Emotions conveyed by the actors through their songs enhance the human element in this story of a twisted, bi-sexual love triangle.
After her freshman year Mickey decides to switch her major to women’s studies. Perhaps she is subconsciously influenced by post-structuralist feminist theory when the time comes to follow her heart. The play is spiced with some daringly erotic scenes, which in the context of the story are innocent enough, but when performed by attractive, nubile girls in front of an audience, contribute to the “mature subject matter” warning. The characters’ celebration of substance abuse also illustrates the experimental perspective of college freshmen.
Lights is an intelligent play rooted in Charlottetown. The set is great, and the actors portray their characters well. Lights is a detailed expression of youthful femininity in this millennium. The production efforts have resulted in an artistic representation of an important group—young lovers who transcend traditional gender ideals.