"Huh?" This was my recurring thought as I watched Beautiful
Lake Winnipeg. In the second week of its run at the Pleiades Theatre, the
play is one that goes on and on and on.
Showcasing people suffering from a depraved human condition, the performance
centres on a couple who "get high" by playing mental games with
unknowing prey. Beginning with Ian (Trevor Rueger) and his finacée
Alida (Natascha Girgis) arriving at her cottage, the play presents what
appears to be a romance. The only problem is, Alida disappears and is replaced
by Mitch (Len Stanga), a loud, macho banger who insists he is Alida's husband.
Faced with such a revelation, all romance leaves the theatre and Ian
is left to battle Mitch. What ensues is a rather entertaining insult toss,
with interludes of a cat and mouse chase between the two, since Ian, the
preppy, pretty boy, is quite wimpy compared to Mitch. This scene sets the
stage for the play's mind games. It's too bad however, that these mind games
become so confusing that it is nearly impossible to follow along, and you
get bored long before you get close to solving the mystery.
As a result of the first scene, Ian is left dazed and confused (along
with the audience), as he struggles to reason everything out. Enter Salome
(Mary Hennigan), an amusing character who looks like the madam from the
local brothel, with her big hair and even bigger cleavage. She introduces
more dialogue into this already lagging play, adding more mystery (and confusion)
to the psychological games. At last Alida returns and struts her stuff,
but it is a long while before the games are finally unraveled.
Written by Canadian Maureen Hunter, the play warns of coarse language,
violence and nudity. The violence is a bit short of believable, and the
flash of nudity drew plenty of giggles from the seniors in front of me,
which suggested it may have been quite a moment of anticipation, and perhaps
even the highlight of the play for much of the audience. The play does offer
fairly strong performances by the actors, mainly through their ability to
maintain the perplexing dialogue and play such twisted characters. Black
humour, crotch and ass grabbing, along with tattoos and body piercing also
fill the play. Overall, Beautiful Lake Winnipeg has the potential to mesmerize
and scare, but the combination of lengthiness, confusion and the giggling
seniors take away from its success.