Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Theatre Review: Mustard

By Shari Archinoff

I never had an imaginary friend as a kid, but I always sort of wanted one. In the new play Mustard, which just had it’s world premiere on February 10, sixteen-year-old Thai has the opposite problem. Her childhood imaginary friend, Mustard, is still very much real to her.

Thai’s mother, Sadie, who is still mourning the end of her marriage and chooses alcohol and pain pills as a coping mechanism, is worried about her daughter’s sanity – until she begins her own relationship with Mustard.

The play, written by Kat Sandler and directed by Ashlie Corcoran, is held in the Extra Space at the Tarragon Theatre. The small size of the theatre lends itself to the intimacy of the setting - at times I felt as though I was actually in someone’s living room, watching a real family’s drama play out. However the size of the performance space didn’t hinder the story, as the set was surprisingly intricate for such a small stage, featuring multiple rooms, levels, and entrances and exits.

Leading the cast as the title character, Mustard, was Anand Rajaram. His performance ran the gamut from childlike and silly to truly heartbreaking. Actresses Rebecca Liddiard and Sarah Dodd, who played Thai and Sadie respectively, also gave incredibly impressive and relatable performances. The supporting cast was rounded out with an equal level of talent by Paolo Santalucia, Tony Nappo and Julian Richings (fans of the TV show Supernatural will recognize him as the horseman, “Death”).

While the play was certainly laugh-out-loud funny on multiple occasions, it got a lot darker than I was originally expecting. Without giving too much away of the plot away, it explores the idea of what happens when you hold on too long to something that isn’t really working for you anymore, and how difficult it can be to let go and move on. Ultimately, though, the main themes of the story are family, love, and of course, the power of imagination.

If you’re looking for an interesting way to spend an evening, I highly recommend checking out Mustard at the Tarragon Theatre. It was a truly engaging and enjoyable experience. I brought my own mother to the show with me, and by the end of the 90-minute play we both had tears running down our cheeks, but smiles on our faces.

For more information about Mustard, which runs until March 13, 2016, visit their website.

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