(Actors Michelle Mainwaring as Misty Hetherington and Rob Tymec as her father performing in Monkeys With A Typewriter Theatre Company’s Moments of Clarity, part of the Tales of Misery series, at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, November 1, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
On Friday night, at Windsor’s Shadowbox Theatre, the curtain was formally raised on the first installment of a unique series about sadness and woe. Although, as is often the case with Monkeys With A Typewriter Theatre Company, there will be some method in this madness.
Dubbed Moments of Clarity, the initial two act play is billed as the first of a new Tales of Misery series, part of a trend scriptwriter Rob Tymec says of creating anthologies around a single theme, which in this case is the pain of miserable but realistic situations. The first play examines in full frontal detail the misery of a debilitating mental illness. If the beginning of the series is any indication, local playgoers need to buckle down for some extenuating, raw emotional entertainment.
Living a life in the grey area of mental afflictions, the play’s protagonist Misty Hetherington, is tip toeing along the sharp edge of a genetically-inherited precipice. Although at any moment, no questions asked, she could be forced by the mere power of her illness to the netherworld below, she also has moments of clarity in which her existence is normalized and she can see and think clearly.
Michelle Mainwaring takes on the role with considerable revere for the plight of her character and shows a woman prone to raging outbursts and at other times reserved logic. Hetherington is a rather rich heiress. Despite this tremendous wealth, she continues to work, and so does her new husband, Jake Wilson, played with clever deviousness by Rob Tymec.
In his role as playwright, Tymec has created a most engaging script in which he takes on a cacophony of roles, all with characteristic discord save for one. There is a plot underfoot, in fact, it is the undertow of a story of conspirators who are plotting to secure Jake’s ability to run off with his wife’s fortune.
With little more than a change of clothing, Tymec moves barrier-free among the characters, sometimes changing almost in mid-sentence. The plot is insidious with Jake knowing that on most days Misty is in a disease induced fog which removes her from reality. Jake’s ambitions are evident when he arrives home early from work, declaring it was a slow day with Human Resources giving him a get out of the office early card.
Misty knows better and confronts him with the fact he quit his job days ago. The effusive Jake, with a charm only an accomplished actor as good as Tymec can deliver, talks her into a new mansion and a life of luxury for him, and her.
It doesn’t stop there. Jake goes full tilt boogie bringing in accomplices in medical and legal operations to execute a total extraction of his wife from her money.
In a non-related poignant scene, he also plays her deceased father, a character requiring a decided southern accent that Tymec nails.
Throughout the play, Misty serves as both the main character and as narrator. Her talks to the audience vacillate between being logical and highly emotional.
Despite his motives, Tymec shines in making each of his characters highly proficient at their work and himself a likable antihero although there may be no mistake, even without the aid of modern-day x-rays, the audience eventually cottons on and can see right through his many character’s veneers which gives the play a highly critical edge.
Mainwaring delivers an incredible, must see, unwavering performance that builds a stockpile of empathy with the audience. It is a play that while it takes the audience into great depths of misery serves its purpose. There is no sugar coating, and neither should there be. A very worthwhile evening.
After the curtain falls, Mainwaring tells Eyes on Windsor the play is somewhat of a hard one for her. Acting in such a fully emotional drama as a rather helpless character is something she hasn’t done in over a decade. It did generate butterflies of apprehension although none of it, or even a hint, was evident to the audience.
Moments of Clarity is the first play in the Tales of Misery series which Tymec himself describes as a play without humour able to bring to the surface unpleasant realities faced by many. This collection of tragic plays is meant to simply inspire sadness and woe to effectively portray the other side of sunny lives.
Repeat performances at the Shadowbox Theatre will run on Friday and Saturday, November 8, & 9, 2019.
Update: Moments of Clarity is being remounted at the Walkerville Artists’ Co-Op on March 7, 14 & 21, 2020.
For more information about tickets and showtimes visit the Eyes On Windsor events calendar: Moments of Clarity | Part of The Tales of Misery Series of Plays
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.