Prominent Canadian playwright George F. Walker (Order of Canada, Governor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award, five-time Dora Award winner) brings his many years of experience to Toronto’s indie theatre scene to direct his acclaimed 2010 dark comedy And So It Goes for Kyanite Theatre.
And So It Goes tells the fictional story of a Toronto family dealing with past and present traumas and the techniques they use to cope. We encounter Ned (Dan Willmott) and Gwen (Deborah Drakeford), their schizophrenic daughter Karen (Tyshia Drake), and their therapist (Scott McCulloch as Kurt Vonnegut, a mental apparition), as Karen’s condition and its repercussions unravel their lives.
As someone who has previously worked in the mental health field, I’m glad And So It Goes discusses something that affects many of us. I also agree the play is important because it sheds light on the toll mental health has on the individual affected/afflicted, family dynamics, and relationships.
I appreciate Walker’s use of humour, curse words in the midst of the drama that is seeing a family member become a completely different person when their mental health deteriorates. As writer and director, Walker has intimate knowledge on how to pace the piece to show us how quickly people’s lives can decline in such dire situations.
The fact that Karen’s parents’ own mental health deteriorates is also very realistic. Caregiver burnout is no joke. I especially found Drakeford’s performance very realistic. Willmott as the father who is somewhat in denial, and somewhat doing the best to support his daughter, does a great job in making us laugh and almost cry.
Unfortunately, I did not connect much with Drake’s performance as Karen. We do get a sense Karen is tormented by her paranoid delusions and the voices in her head. My personal critique here is that not every person who has schizophrenia will burst into screams all the time. The yelling/screaming took away from the pain Karen is experiencing. Nonetheless, we do understand Karen is spiralling down to a dark place.
McCulloch as Vonnegut, the ‘therapist’ both parents create in their minds, serves as comedic relief. He also becomes the voice of reason in some respect. I certainly like his interactions with all the characters on stage.
Set and costume design is by Kelly Wolf work well in complementing the family’s decline. I particularly like the lighting design by Chin Palipane. I also like the songs used throughout the show and sound design by Jeremy Hutton.
Overall, a good production which deals with a subject matter that affects all of us, and must be talked about.
And So It Goes continues until May 26 at Pia Bauman Scotiabank Studio Theatre in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. Tickets can be purchased online at andsoitgoes.brownpapertickets.com.
All photos by John Gundy.