THE ONES WE LEAVE BEHIND
The Cultch Historic Theatre, until November 3rd
My Two Cents
The Ones We Leave Behind is more sincere and direct than a lot of entertainment I usually consume. It took a while to get comfortable with a story that is so heartfelt, but it was a refreshing change.
Abby Chung is investigating a dead woman named Beatrice, who seems to have no remaining relatives or friends to mourn her. When Abby reads Beatrice’s journal, she minds many parallels between their lives, coping with aging parents and romantic uncertainty. The first half of the play emphasized how many interpersonal mistakes we can make when we’re feeling vulnerable and self-protective. I appreciate how playwright Loretta Seto resolved her storylines without giving the audience too many tidy answers. A few moments near the end of the show had the confident ring of a final scene, which was a bit confusing, but I was grateful for more.
Playing Abby’s stubborn mother, Alannah Ong made the most of her character’s quips and retorts. It was impressive to see how quickly she and Agnes Tong, in the lead role, could take their relationship from comedy to sincerity. Agnes impressed with her consistent characterization throughout the play. Whether investigating, negotiating with her boyfriend, or trying to manage her mother, Abby’s determination and uncertainty were well balanced. The supporting characters were also played with simplicity and honesty.
This is a powerful show about isolation and connection, and unfortunately, it is still unusual to see a story revolve around a woman of colour in North America. The Cultch and Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre are helping to move theatre in the right direction. If you’re in the mood for an emotional journey, this is the show for you.