Yes, they talk about sex--good, bad, the lack of it etc. And they talk about family, lonely lives, addiction, enabling, jobs, menopause--the gamut of life and what five middle-aged friends are dealing with. If you're of a certain age and want a look in a mirror--to say, as bad-ass character Tricia does--"middle age is an endless parade of what the f**k"--then there's much to enjoy at Walterdale Theatre's current production 5@50, on now through Dec. 18.
Acclaimed playwright and Edmonton native Brad Fraser says he wrote 5@50 for the all "excellent middle-aged actresses who were having trouble finding parts", and he's achieved that goal. The five-person cast has a lot to work with, in particular the roles of Norma and Olivia, played by Cinnamon Stacey and Nicolle Lemay, who show a dissolving relationship fraught with alcohol addiction and co-dependence.
When Olivia loses control at her 50th birthday party, her three best friends decide to intervene once and for all. But, as is revealed, maybe Olivia isn't the only one battling demons--maybe each of these women faces an addiction of one kind or another.
Fraser offers up a darkly comedic portrayal of turning 50 in contemporary society. Have we resolved issues from our childhoods? Our parents' mistreatments or deaths? What kind of parents did we become, or did we choose to have children at all? What does it feel like to be unsure about a long marriage or no longer relevant to our career? Does any of this ring true? Elizabeth Marsh as Lorene, Ursula Pattloch as Fern and Anne Marie Szucs as Tricia round out the cast of women grappling with life's foibles as they work to hang onto the friendships that mean so much to them.
It's a long show--clocking in at almost 2.5 hours, and even then there isn't chance for a deep dive into some of the issues raised: abortion, losing custody of children, a longtime affair in a seemingly perfect marriage, but the actors move things along, crude sexual references, obscene language and thoughtful self-reflections included. Sometimes it's a bit messy, sometimes things move smoothly along--kind of like a middle-aged life.
Louise Mallory directs. See walterdaletheatre.com for programme and ticket information.