My Theatre

14 June 2018

String of Pearls

By // Theatre (Toronto)

String of Pearls, brought to you by Labour of Love, chronicles the life line of a pearl necklace and it’s connection to the women who wear it. It’s a story of heart ache, of longing, of death and destruction, pettiness, and love. Be prepared for your emotions torun through the spectrum. This is a story that will pull your heartstrings and make you laugh within minutes.

The set was simple: white rolling walls and a sculpted string of pearls hanging as the backdrop. The costumes were simple: jeans and a black shirt for the cast. All of this facilitated the audience to plummet into their imagination as guided by the cast. The cast, only four actors, was spectacular. Each actor played numerous characters, bringing individual flare through body language, voice, accents and demeanour. At no point was there ever any doubt who the actor was playing. 

The story was framed by Beth (Jeanette Cairns), an old woman watching her granddaughter plan her wedding. Everything is perfect… except the family heirloom, a string of pearls, is missing. Beth narrated the steamy story of how she originally received the pearls. As an audience member, sometimes you don’t know what you need until you see it. For me, I didn’t realize that I needed an mature woman to tell a sexually riveting story. On one hand, it was uncomfortable, after all the presentation of sex is often isolated to young and beautiful women. But it was empowering in its erotism and humour to see a mature woman break expectations and bring forth a sensual, almost nasty, narrative. After this opening, the string of pearls traveled the world on the chest of many women… and the belly of a fish… until it miraculously returned to Beth right before the wedding.

Within this play, there was a lot to love. My heart has a special place for the fourth wall being broken and it was done frequently to provide background information to the scene at hand, adding complexity and texture. The women within the scenes were written and performed with depth and dimension, as main characters rather than romantic interests or supports to male protagonists. These characters are women who are dying, are loving, are facing hardships, are alone, have husbands, are divorced. There isn’t a moment where women are presented as support characters. And because of this, it was easy to connect to the stories, which, for me, is one of the objectives of theatre.  

This play reflects the needs of the current social climate. For years, I’ve been watching theatre that hasn’t been directed towards an audience that is usually 80% female. String of Pearls is written by a woman, performed by women, and designed to be consumed by women. This, in combination with the entertainment value, makes it a show I highly recommend.

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