Laura Jacqmin's new work about a teen boy's death flips the usual script regarding grief and going on.
“When your only child dies, you’re supposed to collapse weeping on top of his dirty laundry,” muses a mother (Tara Mallen) in Laura Jacqmin’s affecting new play about the aftermath of a high-school hockey star’s death. “You’re supposed to stop eating and drinking and bathing,” Mallen’s Alice continues. “You’re supposed to mourn him. And I—Have not. I am not. I do not.”
Alice’s son, Mike, makes his mother’s conflicted feelings somewhat understandable in flashback. Nicely played by Brendan Meyer with a veneer of charm over an ugly core, Mike is a handsome, arrogant, entitled, smug, stoned, difficult little prick, who crashes his parents’ car driving drunk after a hockey team party.
As his mother, his frustrated English teacher (Lily Mojekwu), and the shy girl (Brenann Stacker) with whom he hooked up on the night of his death reflect in alternating monologues on Mike’s impact on their lives, Megan Schuchman’s spare, in-the-round staging for Rivendell’s premiere keeps us close enough to share their mix of grief and grievances. Meyer, meanwhile, rides a careful line between swagger and repugnance. Jacqmin’s requiem for a teenage dirtbag subverts the usual questions about loss of young life and lost potential; this kid seems to have done his best to lose his potential while alive.
Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. By Laura Jacqmin. Directed by Megan Schuchman. With Tara Mallen, Brendan Meyer, Lily Mojekwu, Brennan Stacker. Running time: 1hr 25mins; no intermission.