I arrived at Havana, a restaurant on Commercial Drive, and was immediately worried that Google Maps had failed me. While hovering awkwardly and waiting for my Inbox app to confirm the address, I overheard somebody asking a hostess about a Fringe show. I was in the right place! I was thrilled—I had plans to see Resounding Scream Theatre’s presentation of Marrow, directed by Marisa Emma Smith and written by Veronique West.
Past the hostesses, behind the bar and to the right is a small theatre inside of the Cuban restaurant. Plenty of leg room, three rows of chairs and not a bad seat in the place. Already, I was letting go of my suspicion that this play wasn’t for me. I settled into my seat and tried to push those pre-judgments out of my mind. Too serious and probably really sad, I had told myself, knowing only that the play would touch on sisterhood, witchcraft and eating disorders.
Marrow is a story about two sisters, not unlike those found in a Miriam Toews novel. The eldest seems, on the surface, to have it all, while youngest has just returned home from “the centre” where she was undergoing treatment for bulimia. There was tension, resentment, awkward hugging, guilt and love. The characters were complex and often contradicted themselves, making them relatable and lovable. It's easy to forgive the fact that this premise, built around two sisters who only seem so different on the surface, was not a new one. That somebody would show themselves as vulnerable and that a shared struggle would be found, seemed inevitable. These sisters were more alike than they were different, and that was very much the point.
The set was stripped down and comprised of very little. Two chairs, one book, four candles, a bottle of wine, two glasses, a bottle opener, a blank piece of paper in a sealed envelope, boxing gloves, a slice of bread and a few pieces of chalk were the only props in the space. When the actresses marvelled at the view outside an apartment window, read a letter written on a completely blank piece of paper or spoke to a counsellor that the audience could not see or hear, they convinced me. The acting was excellent and the script realistic.
Marrow is a play that does more than entertain, it challenges the audience to think. The script left me contemplating competition between people who, in ideal circumstances, would be each other’s champions. The play spoke to identities we inhabit relative to our siblings, forgiveness, mental health and more. I didn’t expect to love this play. But, the forty-five minutes flew by and I truly found myself feeling a little sad that it was over. Anybody who goes to see Marrow is in for a thought provoking treat. In fact, I’m tempted to go back myself.