Mortified's unconventional setting provides an otherworldly backdrop to a difficult story

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Mortified | Studio 58 and Touchstone Theatre | Studio 58 at Langara College | November 15 – December 2, 2018

Girl moves to new town. Girl meets boy. No…girl meets man. Man takes advantage of girl. Girl struggles to come to terms with this experience and, as an adult, is still affected by the abusive relationship and his power over her. 

Emily Jane King plays Girl, the unnamed 14-year-old who falls for Ty (Isaac Mazur). As an adult, she (Lindsay Angell) runs into Ty (Ian Butcher) in a mall food court and decides to try and talk to him about what he did to her.

A synchronized swimmer with naïve, helicopter parents who see her as the baby, the girl revels in her rebellion. She finds the experience exciting at first, but things become increasingly pedophilic. One scene in particular was hard to watch as Ty sneaks into her bedroom, competing with her army of stuffed animals for space in her bed.

Set in an old, empty swimming pool, the action seems removed from everyday life — as if the characters are in limbo until they can work through what has happened. The girl, as an adult, relives her childhood experience, talking to her 14-year-old self and analyzing what actually happened. At the time, she didn’t realize what a traumatic experience it was.

She was proud of having a boyfriend, proud that he was older, edgy, and had a bad reputation. King has the perfect combination of little girl sweetness with a rebellious edge, while her older counterpart, Angell, vibrates with frustration while authentically and excruciatingly working through her feelings and the effects of the trauma.

Mazur as the younger Ty has the perfect devil-may-care swagger and creepy glint in his eye, while Butcher add an ignorant aloofness to the adult Ty. The rest of the cast are also stellar, especially Coach Cindy (Jessie Liang) who serves as a narrator perched on the diving board.

As if in a dreamscape, the synchronized swimming sequences, out of body experiences, and choreography (Amber Funk Barton) combine to tell this difficult story in a way that leaves you thinking about its implications long after the swimmers have dried off.

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