Victoria Fringe Festival
Sep 8, 2021 – Sep 12, 2021
Metro Studio Theatre
111 Quadra St.
Tickets can be bought in advance here.
Anyone who knows Peter Schilling’s music video of his hit single, “Major Tom,” may well get the shivers when learning about Mary’s life in David Elendune’s The Shadow in the Water. She’s coming home alright, but not in a way I would immediately suspect.
This story billed as a tale of love, loss and sharks is a deceptive tease. I’m thinking it’s about sailing into the mystic, Van Morrison style. This octogenarian is recounting moments about her life to Sharon. I assume this younger character is a caretaker sent to check in on this senior–who is listening to the broadcast of the Apollo 11 landing at the start of the play. Bits of this landmark moment in human history plays out throughout the show, and it’s highly suggestive that eventually, Mary’s time will come to “go home.”
Instead, Mary is lost in her own memories. She wants someone to know everything she’s done since before the night fades away.
This play differs from Elendune’s past works. I’ve known him for producing Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes & The Curse of Moriarty, and Winnie the Pooh. Most of which either played as part of the Victoria Fringe Festival or independently. His talent for making characters we can empathize with is why I’m always there for his shows. Here, this ornery widow (she’s survived the war and had two husbands), has done a lot. Some by herself, others with one of her soul mates, and the rest with new friends she’s made along the way. God knows she’s tried to find the truth and be a proper lady, but pretty soon, we also find she’s also bleeding deep inside. It’s tough to be a true survivor, and the shark swimming in the waters near New Jersey is not helping.
There’s no lifeguard to rescue Mary. And nor are we getting those prerequisite Jaws moments, but I can tell that’s what this playwright was going for. Instead, I’m recognizing a different kind of Orphic Journey, to recover what was once lost and failing, but only finding other ways in how to deal since that soul mate but a door knock away.
Mary finds some help, but is it enough? To say anymore would spoil part of this sentimental character drama. This work isn’t necessarily a departure from material this playwright lovingly produced in the past. His screenplay even has a bit of the mystic involved. I was at attention when Mary talks about other incarnations of Death hailing from antiquity, namely the Greeks and Ancient Egyptian. They all hint at the inevitable, Mary’s readiness take their hands so she can be with her husband(s) in that next life.
This topic is one that’s often tough to express without audiences feeling sad. This writer and director, Ian Case, addresses how to accept the inevitable with grace. We’re not simply witnessing her deliver her own eulogy. Instead, we are seeing there is something about Mary to appreciate. She’s something fierce, a performance Wendy Magahay deserves an ovation for, and we have to love her for it.
4½ Stars out of 5
Mary – Wendy Magahay
Sharon – Rosemary Jeffery
Freddy – Cam Culham
Young Mary – Janine Fitzpatrick
Jakob – Nolan Fidyk
Mother – Connie McConnell
Father & M2 – Kenneth J. Yvorchuk
Michelle – Christina Patterson
Betty – Tenyjah McKenna
Woman – Melissa Taylor
M1 & Newspaper Boys – Vuk Prodanovic
Customer – David Elendune