The world premiere of Beau Han Bridge’s new play, Molly Misbegotten, was touching, well-acted, self-aware, and followed a familiar narrative that was, perhaps, unnecessary to stage.
This is the third production put on my Midtwenties Theatre Society, which was also established by Han Bridge. In keeping with their mandate to explore contemporary issues relevant to millennial youth, Molly Misbegotten is a coming-of-age story primarily featuring young people in the cast and large directing team (8 directors for a show with only 5 actors).
The story centres around a young filmmaker, Elijah, and his creation of a project which he hopes to be truthful, authentic, and not pretentious. Elijah, also played by Beau Han Bridge, is a hurricane of emotional turbulence masked with awkward laughs and self-deprecation. Beau Han Bridge played the character with surprisingly touching casual intimacy, but the thought occurred to me several times that someone should let him know, as both an actor and a playwright, that saying “like” in every other sentence doesn’t make a character realistic or relatable. If anything, the script was over-peppered with colloquial millennial jargon that was funny for the first 5 minutes, and distracting for the remainder of the play.
The actors performances were all solid, nuanced, and multi-layered: Shelby Satterthwaite was delightfully endearing as Molly, especially considering that the scenes she appeared in were often fairly devoid of action. A standout was Dakota Vegh as Derek, who offered comedic relief and a less angsty perspective to a fairly heavy narrative. Aleksandra Koel as Rooney and Quinn Hinch as Christian also delivered dynamic performances of characters that were well enough written that I felt as though they were surely plucked right from my own life.
The first act took a while to pick up, but by the end of the show I was convinced of Han Bridge’s skills as an actor and a playwright. However, I couldn’t help but feel that having one’s character talk about how they want to achieve something that isn’t angsty or pretentious doesn’t automatically absolve your own piece of those flaws. This is a story I’ve seen before: tortured artist manchild needs an offbeat, beautiful manic-pixie-dream-girl to give him the will to live and provide direction in his life. It’s a narrative I find frustrating and unnecessary after the scores of identical indie films in the last ten years, but this show is successful in that genre and has touching insights on the frantic and alienating world many young people find themselves in today.
The use of video technology was a nice touch to a play that might have otherwise felt somewhat scenically static, although the single set was perfect for what it was, and the lighting was minimal, which worked for the space. However, none of the designers for lights, set, video or sound were credited in the program, which was unfortunate.
Ultimately, there is a magic in seeing on stage the conversations of hopes, fears and delights that every young adult has in their living room at 2 in the morning. Molly Misbegotten is self-aware and touching, but I wish I had been more inclined to care about Elijah before the final scenes of the show. Beau Han Bridge has a promising future as a writer and performer, and his cast mates and team of directors all brought out magically truthful glimpses of the millennial experience. Whether or not you are interested in seeing that onstage is a different story, but this piece left me thinking about art, identity and relationships in my own life, which is indeed one of the very purposes this art form serves.
Molly Misbegotten runs until May 19th at the Havana. Tickets here.
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