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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Theatre review: Let’s Run Away is a captivating piece of storytelling

Daniel MacIvor gives an exquisitely realized performance in this production from 2b theatre and reWork Productions on stage at The Bus Stop Theatre in Halifax until April 23.

What was it that Barbra Streisand sang about memories being both beautiful and painful? In Daniel MacIvor’s solo show Let’s Run Away, the memories of Peter, twice abandoned by his mother, are laid bare in an exquisitely realized performance of a captivating piece of storytelling.

In Let’s Run Away, MacIvor splits his time between stage right and left (or is that stage left and right?). On the one side, he dons his birth mother’s necklace and reads from her unpublished memoir, recounting tales of how she acquired Sid Vicious’ bass guitar, parties at Fran Lebowitz’s and the chance reunion between Peter and his mother on the side of the road.

On the other side of the stage, Peter has his own notebook where he corrects and expands on what he has read in his mother’s memoir and with stories of growing up on his own. He even uses the Sex Pistols bassist’s guitar for a punk-inspired song.

While the two sides of the stage deal with cause and effect, at centre stage, Peter lip-synchs passages from Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, adding furtive echoes to his own story.

Amidst his stories, Peter directs and admonishes an unseen technician operating sound and lighting. While it sometimes feels uncomfortable, it adds depth and interest to what is happening on stage and is a wholly believable element to Peter’s “performance.”

Daniel MacIvor in Let's Run Away. Photo by Guntar Kravis.
Daniel MacIvor in Let’s Run Away. Photo by Guntar Kravis.

Making it all work is MacIvor’s storytelling prowess. As if reciting the words for the first time, there is a palpable freshness to his performance, drawing us wholly into the comedy and tragedy of Peter’s life. Moreover, MacIvor’s delivery is invigorating. A masterclass in what the solo show can achieve, he easily provides the necessary bridge between Peter and his audience.

Layered and complex, ultimately, MacIvor’s glimpses into Peter’s life are that of a son looking to reconnect and reconcile his now with his past. MacIvor reminds us that memories can be powerful, shaping how we perceive the world and ourselves.

Let’s Run Away is the seventh solo collaboration between MacIvor and his long-time director and dramaturg, Daniel Brooks. In his program notes, MacIvor reveals that while he retired from doing solo works several shows ago, the pull to the stage for “one more” was too great. The result is Let’s Run Away. Thank god for one more.

2b theatre and reWork Productions present Let’s Run Away at The Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen St, Halifax) until April 23 as part of 2b theatre’s SPRINGboard mini-festival. Visit 2btheatre.com for tickets and information.

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