From acclaimed Croatian playwright Tena Štivicic and directed by the award-winning Svjetlana Jaklenec, The Two of Us had its North American premiere at this year’s Fringe Festival in Toronto. The story follows two women as they navigate family, friendship and love in a post-war Croatia. On the surface, The Two of Us is an examination of the power struggle between men and women but when Lena, played by the crafty Shannon Currie, seduces Anja we are presented with a humorous social commentary on patriarchy and one dysfunctional family’s attempt to rise above it. Instead of challenging the power structures around them, they use their codependency to create a world where their secret love affair can flourish. The ever twisting plot culminates with Lena revealing her jealousy over Anja’s unnatural affair.
Notable was Beatriz Yuste’s memorable portrayal of Anja who gave the audience a generous mix of vulnerability and sharp-witted humour balancing out the over-bearing mother played by the charming Deborah Grover. The post-war apocalyptic set serves to embellish this dark comedy, but it’s the brightly coloured costumes and tendency towards the hedonistic that remind us that their affair is, in part, an effort to reimagine their lives as safe, free and powerful. Amidst the chaos, the characters attempt to define themselves, and one another, through literature, film, fashion and lampshade collages which provide a glimpse into their ever-changing definition of family, fidelity and love. While The Two of Us could benefit from faster pacing, especially as it relates to the abundance of phone calls made by the characters, the smart blocking and stage direction make up for it by allowing the complex relationships to be represented by physical space on, and off stage. On until July 16, 2018 at Theatre Passe Muraille, tickets.