“THIS” Will Make You Feel Everything

My familiarity of Melissa James Gibson’s un-romantic comedy play, THIS, is as vague as the title, and I am so glad for that because I didn’t expect myself to be taken into an emotional ride – my first thought was roller coaster but really it’s more like a five-armed machine pulling and pushing me in and out of five different emotions.

and THIS is why…

Played by a very strong cast of five, Kindred Entertainment‘s THIS presents different stories of relationships, life challenges, and self-reflection in the midst of approaching middle age, each playing consistent personalities that will touch and make you emit different emotions. Just when I start to focus on one character, another will suddenly grab my attention and it goes on and on until I found myself focusing on everyone as one.  All this, though, did not confuse nor take anything away from the story, given how fascinating it was to see how each interacts as if I was a fly on a wall.

Photo by Brandon Tang

Loretta Walsh as Jane made me sad.  Jane struggles with acceptance and moving forward when she lost her husband, ultimately giving in to a situation that compromises her friendships, giving way to even more grief throughout until the end.

As Alan, Benjamin Ratner delivers witty punch lines with impeccable timing that are as real as they can get.  Not necessarily the lone nor a mere comic relief, Alan pulled me back to a better place just when things got too heavy.

Anxiety is what I felt with Marrell, as played by Karen Holness.  From the Brita’s water level to how you actually pronounce “Brita”, I almost felt sorry for her husband, Tom, played by Brad Dryborough (who I will get to in a moment), as I can feel how challenging it is to live with a strong character like hers.  Marrell looks like someone you’d want to be on her good side with.

When I said I almost felt sorry for Tom, that’s because I mostly felt anger and that’s within the first twenty minutes.  His weakness that ultimately broke not only Marell but even other unseen characters is enough to question his morals even in valid circumstances.

Throughout the chaos, Jean Pierre, played by Zak Santiago, kept me calm and collected.  Mostly an observer, Jean Pierre may be the only character that did not display the same struggles as those around him, and it’s a great ingredient to the mix, given all what is happening that he just made me feel at ease when everything started escalating.

Photo by Brandon Tang

Yes, it felt like Disney’s Inside Out.  It may be emotional overload but overall, with the witty lines, performance, and lightning speed pacing, THIS is a fun journey and a good opportunity to tap into your deep seated emotions while leaving the baggage behind after the show.

Directed by Bill Dow, THIS continues to play at Studio 16 at 1555 W. 7th Ave., Vancouver until May 6

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