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Spotlight: theatrical virtuoso Daniel MacIvor exposes a bitterly funny slice of life in Was Spring

Daniel MacIvor
In Toronto’s occasionally precious theatre scene, Daniel MacIvor is like a pit bull in a 
Japanese paper shop, joyfully shredding his surroundings and refusing to stay put. Though the 49-year-old playwright-actor-director made his name with intense one-man shows like Monster and House, he has resisted settling into any particular niche. Whatever genre or form he throws himself into, he unleashes dialogue that is caustic, clever and often bitterly comical. He doesn’t avoid politics or grand ideas, but his preferred territory is the tragic farce of our dysfunctional humanity—his plays would be crushing if they weren’t so funny. In Was Spring, premiering at Tarragon this month, MacIvor takes a mordant look at three generations of women as they hash out long-held grievances. His characters say truly terrible things to each other, but their salty, muscular language is tempered by a kind of understanding. Even when they’re fighting, which they almost always are, they get one another on a cellular level. Was Spring is one of a group of MacIvor plays about motherhood that includes 2010’s Communion—he is the rare male playwright who does not shy away from telling women’s stories. Next month, MacIvor takes on a new challenge, making his Stratford Festival debut with The Best Brothers, about a pair of siblings who inherit their mother’s dog following her demise. Death, family squabbling and an unwanted dog—sounds like perfect MacIvor material.

Was Spring
Tarragon Theatre
Extra Stage
April 4 to May 6

(Image: Kourosh Keshiri)