If I Were You is billed as a comedy, but there is little to smile about in the first act. My advice… stay for the second act to appreciate the humour. It’s there, and it provides an engaging and welcome redemption of social roles based upon gender. Not only is the writing and acting cleverly done, it’s laugh out loud funny.
The first act introduces us to a series of dysfunctional conversations between and amongst family members: an entitled father/husband, a depressed mother/wife, an angry teenage son, a married and anxious daughter, and a brash son-in-law. The exchanges are raw, angry, and had me cringing; I felt like an unwilling voyeur. Not surprising, a number of audience members left at intermission. That was their loss. They missed out on what was an uplifting resolution of family distress.
Through the intervention of magical realism, one night the father/husband and mother/wife mysteriously have their personalities switched. Each is left to inhabit the other’s body. They are horrified, but decide to maintain a front of normalcy, and that is where the humour and the insights kick in. It’s a premise that could lead to some interesting conversations during the ride home from theatre, or over breakfast the next day.
Brigitte Robinson and Brad Dury do a magnificent job of playing their own gender roles, and each other’s. They are capably supported by Maria Dinn, Sean Hauk, and Kyle Orzech. The set is superb in that it works as the interior of a modern home and as a furniture showroom. The transformation between the two is accomplished by something as simple and as powerful as lighting.
If I Were You is well worth your time…if you stay to the end of the second act! It’s playing at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton until March 19, 2016.