Mustard: Don’t let this put you off condiments

The Arts Club is producing Kat Sandler's Mustard at the Granville Island Stage.

Andrew McNee’s performance as Mustard helps to ground this production. And Heidi Damayo is solid as Thai. (Photo by Mark Halliday)

Hold the Mustard.

On paper, it sounds like playwright Kat Sandler might have created an engaging world. Sixteen-year-old Thai has an imaginary friend, Mustard, whom she can see and talk to. Thai’s getting sick of Mustard hanging around all the time, but Thai’s mom Sadie soon starts seeing Mustard, too, and she needs him: Sadie’s husband Bruce left her a year earlier and she is brutally lonely.

Watching Mustard in the theatre, though, the storytelling feels incoherent. The script contains elements of naturalistic grit and fantastical darkness that never fully mesh with its whimsicality. Early on, Sadie attempts suicide, for instance, thinking that Thai is in the house. Sadie describes her attempt as a “cry for help.” Still, she’s selfish enough to risk her daughter finding her corpse? And I’m supposed to like this woman? In terms of storytelling, Sadie’s suicide attempt feels like a convenient and under-motivated plot point—and it blocks my emotional access to the piece. [Read more…]

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