Take a stroll in Moss Park

Photo: Mark Halliday

Any play by Canadian playwright George F. Walker is a satisfying theatre experience. Sometimes disturbing, funny, moving or sad—sometimes all at the same time. Walker’s work is always thought provoking and entertaining. Last year, the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s season included the hilariously brilliant moral-questioning Walker comedy, The Burden of Self Awareness. This year, it’s Walker’s touching, yet dark, comedy Moss Park. It runs at the GCTC until February 8, 2015.

The play features a young couple, Bobby and Tina, discussing life. Both come from meagre backgrounds with varying levels of dysfunction and no positive role models. Tina, who is unemployed, finds herself living with her mother and her daughter Holly (fathered by Bobby) and is about to be evicted. She dreams of stability for Holly and of a home for her family. Meanwhile, Bobby can’t keep a job, is not the smartest of characters and has very bad judgement. Their responsibilities are great and their prospects are grim.

With the sound of sirens in the background, they meet in a park strewn with litter and ditched household items (aptly, the set is a magnificent, chaotic mess) to discuss how they can build a life together. Both bring entirely different perspectives to the table and things initially look bleak, a path forward together unlikely. Bobby’s immaturity is staggeringly pathetic and yet, in true Walkeresque fashion, is touching—even when he reluctantly reveals he has been dabbling in crime. Tina is the dominant one in the relationship and tries to create as much foundation as she can in their difficult situation. Through it all, their mutual love, albeit dysfunctional, is evident. The play has a unique twist and ends on a note of hope. While Moss Park itself is a rough neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, it could easily be in any urban centre. The play explores some of the universal challenges poverty poses in a very human, sympathetic way.

A superb cast makes a great play even better—certainly the case here. Graeme McComb perfectly captures Bobby and succeeds in presenting a character that is entirely pitiful and yet likeable, flaws and all. Emma Slipp’s Tina, a more level-headed yet tough character, is a great antidote to Bobby. The chemistry between the two actors is fantastic. Moss Park is a great way to spend a chilly night.

Moss Park is on stage at the GCTC until February 8.