Moss Park is a short play about a young couple with dwindling prospects and growing problems. Through a series of tough conversations, they evaluate their options and consider the possibility of a future torn apart.
Should You See It?
Bobby can’t hold down a job, is behind on his child support payments, and hasn’t seen his daughter in ages. Tina is pregnant with her second child, is being evicted, and is fed up with Bobby’s deadbeat ways. Herein lies the conflict that drives this hour-long show about desperation, loneliness, fear, love, and ultimately hope.
Nothing much happens in this play but the emotions run so high that it’s impossible to be bored. Against the realistic backdrop of a chain-link fence covered with graffiti and garbage, we witness the fighting, pleading, dreaming, and scheming that goes on between these two young lovers. With little more than two park benches, the sounds of sirens, and a beat-up old backpack, a whole world is clearly created by Martin Conboy’s excellent design work.
Throughout the heated conversations, Bobby and Tina talk about his father’s alcoholism, his step-mother’s drug use, her mother’s mental health issues, and their dwindling opportunities to make ends meet. They explore the options of relying on a food bank, living in a shelter, getting an abortion, or turning to a life of crime to get by. When Tina mentions that more support is available to single mothers, she has a difficult choice to make: is it better for her daughter to have a father figure or to have financial stability?
The grim and complex realities of poverty is portrayed so honestly here, Moss Park leaves you feeling devastated, conflicted, and very thankful to not be in such dire straits. Yet thanks to the clever character work of Graeme McComb and Emma Slipp, we never feel depressed. McComb does an excellent job portraying the slacker Bobby as a wide-eyed dreamer and an easy comic foil to Emma Slipp’s tough girl Tina. I particularly enjoyed the balance between Tina’s biting sarcasm and Bobby’s silly slapstick. I was also impressed by the genuine concern, compassion, and chemistry between the two actors, especially during tearful heart-to-hearts.
To me, Moss Park is the quintessential dark comedy and it is a beautiful slice of life piece that speaks to the power of love, hope, and dreams. I did feel that the ending was abrupt and dissatisfying but my companion felt that the characters’ journeys concluded nicely so this may be a matter of opinion.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you thought? How accurately did you feel Moss Park portrayed life below the poverty line? Did the ending work for you, or leave you needing more? Let me know in the comments below.
Moss Park runs at the Great Canadian Theatre Company until Feb 8th. Head over to GCTC.ca for more information, including buying tickets.