Heidi Damayo (Thai) and Andrew McNee (Mustard) star in Mustard by Kat Sandler, running Oct. 25 through Nov. 25 at The Belfry Theatre. Photos by Mark Halliday

REVIEW: Belfry’s latest offering leaves bad taste in the mouth

Mustard loud and overbearing, ruins good story bones, writes reviewer Sheila Martindale

Sheila Martindale

Monday Magazine contributor

The set for The Belfry Theatre’s production of Mustard is beautiful and functional, the acting is superb, the timing perfect.

The lead actor, Andrew McNee, really threw himself into the part and you could see the sweat practically dripping off him almost the whole time. The opening night audience was wildly enthusiastic. Perfect, right?

Yes, except for the fact that the volume was much louder than anyone should have to endure for almost two hours straight without an interval. Except for the tiresome and repetitive use of the F word. Except for the gratuitous violence provided by two Nazi-like characters, complete with the pulling out of fingernails and teeth. If there was some charm in the whimsical tale, it was completely ruined by this nasty aspect.

In short, this play by Kat Sandler – winner of the Dora Mavor Moore award for outstanding new play – was an assault on the senses as well as on the intelligence.

The story is actually OK – a rebellious teenager, an absent father, a mother not coping and a large ‘imaginary friend’ who has outstayed his welcome and is reluctant to leave. The fact this friend looks uncannily like the husband and father who left no doubt has a bearing on the story. Which seems to go further and further downhill as it wends its excruciatingly painful way to the end.

Had I not been reviewing, and had there been an interval, I would have left the theatre before I was completely deafened and dispirited. But, as I said, other people appeared to enjoy it immensely, so maybe my sense of humour had taken a temporary leave of absence.

The Belfry does not have to descend to the level of the lowest common denominator; I hope we can return to more civilized shows in better taste – soon!

Tickets for Mustard, on until Nov. 25, are available online at belfry.bc.ca or by calling 250-385-6815.

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