March 1-3 and 7-10 (Preview Feb. 28)
The Two Twenty Den
What if you lived life in reverse, slowly growing younger, looking forward to events from your past? Or watching as a doomed relationship repairs itself, eventually blossoming into first love again?
How messed up would that be?
Comfort is a play that presents one couple’s story in a non-linear fashion, starting at the end, then jumping back to the beginning. Local actors Matthew Burgess and Heather Morrison play the ill-fated couple in this drama written by Saskatchewan Playwrights’ Centre dramaturge Gordon Portman.
Burgess describes the story as a “relationship drama that takes you on a roller coaster.”
“It comes at a point in their relationship where a lot of the heavy stuff has already happened,” says Burgess. “Then we jump back to the very first night when they first meet.”
Burgess plays Mike, a man facing the end of his marriage, and remembering two major moments that were turning points. The story is in no way a comedy, but Burgess says he doesn’t think the audience will go away with a heavy heart.
“Ultimately, it’s a story saying [that] this too will pass, and something else will come up that will be as good or better. It centres [on] some heavy issues, but there’s a lot of humour in it — relationship humour. These people know each other; there’s in-jokes the audience will get.”
This will be the first play to be performed in The Den, The Two Twenty’s event space. In the basement of the building, the space has room for only about 65 people, so it’s going to be a pretty cozy show.
“Because the audience is so close, we think it’s a very different style of show,” said Burgess. “It’s so close, we might be weaving in and around people.”
But he doesn’t see the close space as detrimental to the two-person play. The intimacy should make it a perfect fit for a play about a couple’s private life.
“It’s a great space for a show that involves a real intimacy to it,” said Burgess. “It looks like a studio apartment.”
In a play that deals with subjects like divorce, love, and life, more than anything, Burgess is hoping the audience walks away with a sense of authenticity.
“The thing that excites me about acting is trying to find authenticity, even though people know they’re [watching] a play. At some point, they say, ‘I’ve had that experience — that’s me, or that’s my sister,’ or someone they recognize who had those same experiences. They have this weird moment of going, ‘That’s too much like real life.’ I don’t want it to always be the negative sort of things, but within the show, I want people to have some of those moments.”
Judging by the promotional video for the play, Morrison and Burgess have tapped into some pretty authentic emotions.
The promo video is practically a work of art in itself. Produced by a small production team called Sica Films (headquartered in The Two Twenty building), the video has a bit of a twist that makes it worth watching twice.
Video previews are a somewhat new marketing venture for theatre companies. Many use footage from dress rehearsals, but the Comfort video crops the frame close, placing the actors against a black background, and they speak to the camera as though they’re talking to a friend. (Find it on YouTube, and through the event’s Facebook page.)
This is Burgess’ first time working for Morrison’s Know Tomorrow Theatre, but the two actors have previously worked together on Windwalker at Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham, and on The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Know Tomorrow Theatre also staged East of Berlin late last year.
Comfortruns March 1-3 and 7-10 at The Two Twenty Den. Tickets are $20, with a pay-what-you-can preview on Feb. 28.