Review: Don't miss Mercury Players' Kiss

by Peter Rusland - Cowichan News Leader Pictorial---November 10, 2014

Robert (Marinus Vesseur), and mom, Claire (Gloria Saesura), admire Holly's newborn son in Mercury Players' insightful dramatic-comedy Kiss The Moon, Kiss the Sun. Image Credit: Peter W. Rusland  

Not since The Boys Next Store was staged 20 years ago have Cowichanians pondered mental disabilities - and morals they evoke - as they did during Saturday's superb dramatic-comedy Kiss The Moon, Kiss The Sun.

Mercury Players' existential tearjerker displayed wonderful characterization by its five-member cast under daring director Marinus Vesseur, and seasoned assistant-director Alex Gallacher.

Both guys also graced Norm Foster's heartfelt script, lending us new views of those struggling with handicaps - and fresh appreciation for those caring for them.

Emotions hugged Vesseur's Oscar-worthy depiction of Robert, a man left with the mentality of an eight year old after a boating accident decades earlier. But thanks to kind-yet-disciplined care from his mom, Claire (Gloria Saesura), Robert leads a happy, productive life. He works at a copy shop; shops at grocery store where folks like him; dutifully eats his Corn Flakes; punctually takes the bus to work; and tenderly kisses his mom goodbye everyday.

But blissful Robert's routine hit a hairpin curve when he met miserably pregnant gal, Holly (Breann Landry) at the bus stop. She had just split from her conceited beau, Simon (Gallacher), a nerdish English professor who valued his career before his child, and blamed a bad condom for Holly's pregnancy.

Robert and Holly's fragile friendship bloomed while doomed, secretly ill Claire consulted cold Dr. Andrews (Michael Terides) about her failing condition. Thinking of Robert's future outside of a "facility", Claire convinced an unwitting Holly to share their apartment, and care for Robert - in anticipation of Claire's impending death.

The three forge a sweet little family for newborn, Clayton. But that was jolted when deadbeat dad, Simon, arrives to woo Holly back. (Gallacher did a fair job separating Simon from his recent role as Prof. Higgins in My Fair Lady.) Despite Kiss' seemingly tame plot, it teemed with timely messages about responsibility, guilt, compassion, love, sorrow and regret in this golden production that - as Robert fondly repeated - reminds us life's simple solutions are "easier said than done."

Indeed, Vesseur captured Robert's confused naivete that infused Kiss with comical levity against serious situations brewing between Holly and Simon, and Claire and her doc.

Some memorable scenes involved Robert hailing a cab to rush Holly to the hospital; Claire's talks with chilly Andrews; Simon's tactless logic about career over his kid; Robert's innocent realizations about sex; and Claire's stormy soliloquies with her uncaring God.

They happened on simple sets, lit on cue, as action shifted between Andrew's office, Claire's apartment, her arm chair, Holly's sofa, and a bus stop. Vocal volume was also excellent.

Humour crept in as Robert dropped malapropisms ("self-steam"), unintended puns - and Claire's pearls of wisdom spanning courtesy, tuna being brain food, "Never ask a woman her age", and "Everything leads to goodbye." Indeed, the farewell between Holly and Robert sure saddened Saturday's crowd.

While Kiss seemed almost flawless, the baby was conspicuously absent in scenes when Holly was at the doctor's, and when she rushed to catch a plane.

Still, this Kiss is must viewing for everyone with a heart, and a conscience. Kiss The Moon, Kiss The Sun runs at Duncan's Mercury Theatre on Brae Road, Nov. 13 to 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Dramatic-comedy rating: 9 realities out of 10.