Thursday, February 18, 2016


Teenage Thai still has an imaginary friend named Mustard who lives under the bed. How can her mother, recently divorced and looking for solace at the bottom of a wine glass, persuade her that this is not normal, when she just started seeing him too? Mustard is a darkly comic fairy tale about an imaginary friend’s quest to stay in our world; a whimsical story about loss, family, growing up, and our need to belong.
                                                                                    program note

Kat Sandler has an immense knack for combining the ridiculous with the sublime and coming up with an unnerving blend of tragedy and comedy that moves at a breakneck pace from start to finish. Mustard is a hilarious and thought provoking piece of writing that prompts future tele - visions of CBC sitcom proportions that could join the ranks of the iconic King of Kensington and the currently acclaimed Schitt’s Creek. The writing is clever and witty and takes great risks by utilizing a subtle form of meta-theatrical joke telling that pushes the boundaries of corny by creating a character who just adores very bad jokes. But this is just one of many intricately drawn character traits that populate this hilarious and touching children’s play for grownups who have plenty to learn about managing their kids.
With a populist Freudian take on imaginary childhood friends Sandler layers this dramedy with plots, sub plots and peculiar fantasy characters that abound with contrasting energy that never provides a dull moment.

Tony Nappo and Julian Richings as Bug and Leslie become devilishly macabre characters who begin as ruthless and gradually morph into…(see the play and find out). As a dynamic duo of insect like scale they appear from the shadows as a necessary contrast to the kitchen sink setting and naturalistic tone that permeates the set and the dialogue. Sarah Dodd as Sadie plays a strong, near to crumbling maternal figure with great grace and emotional range, while Rebecca Liddiard as her daughter Thai matches Dodd’s emotional range and intensity as the two manage a wonderful rapport mixed with familial love and angsty distress. Paolo Santalucia as Jay, the hapless lover, is a fine study in handsome geekiness as he bears the brunt of a family he so engagingly attempts to become a part of.
 But perhaps the star turn in a brilliant ensemble comes from the title character of Mustard. Anand Rajaram somehow manages to grace the stage in an appropriately outlandish children’s show type costume, utilizing a comic and poignant vocal range that transforms in a strikingly climactic moment by the end of the story.

Set and costume design by Michael Gianfrancesco cites the classic sitcom effect of casual dress moving among a few rooms - all accessible via the a small staircase and an unassuming entryway. This works extremely well in the context of the dramedy that unfolds, creating a detailed, claustrophobic environment that attests to the minute neuroses and surprising love triangles that magically and maniacally unfold in a cluttered suburban space.

As my companion that evening remarked, Mustard is “a cross between The Polka-dot Door and A Midsummer Night’s Dream… As for Bottom, well, there’s a bit of butt cleavage at one point, and it is delightful…

No comments:

Post a Comment