Reviewed by James Karas
Guilt (A Love Story) is a new play that is performed by its author Diane Flacks in a solo performance at Tarragon Theatre. Flacks is a spirited storyteller and gives an energetic performance full of humour and drama. According to a note in the program “Guilt (A Love Story) is a story of a mother’s experience dealing with the end of her relationship and its impact on her family, and the re-discovery of her own sense of self-worth. Her experience is compounded by the many intersections she lives, ultimately unpacking the onion-like layers of what encompass that persistence of guilt.”
Flacks starts with the Bible and the murder by Cain of his brother Abel and being Jewish herself gives us the origin of the feeling of guilt and the specialty not to say almost monopoly of it by the Jews. The character that Flacks portrays is of course fictional but she has some similarities to the life of the author. The fictional character is a lesbian who was married and had children with her wife. Alone on the stage with only a chair for a prop, Flacks gives a highly physical and effusive performance, never allowing the audience to stray from the comic and dramatic stories that she tells.
She tells many stories from brief, almost one-liners to extended ones. She
tells us about her child being in intensive care for almost a year. She becomes
friends with other parents with children in the same unit and is overwhelmed
with guilt and anger when one of the other children is arresting and bey all
the lights and noise as they try to resuscitate the dying child. But she is
angry because the lights and noise of trying to resuscitate the child keep her
child from sleeping.
She and her wife chose an “open” relationship and she meets and is pursued by a much younger woman that she calls a “racehorse”. She tries to resist the overwhelming attraction but succumbs.
Let’s not forget that there are some Jews that would make you ashamed or is it feel guilty of being Jewish. How about Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, and Woody Allen?
When she and her wife separated, they decided to take turns staying in the house to look after the two children. Her wife did not want her to sleep in the marital bed when it was her turn to look after the children and Flacks’ character ended up sleeping in the basement while the ex-wife slept upstairs in their bed.
Jews don’t celebrate Christmas so birthdays are more important. On birthdays the family made a big fuss waking the birthday person with cake and singing “Happy Birthday.” On her birthday she was sleeping in the basement and she heard the family moving about upstairs and expected them to come down with a cake. They didn’t and left for the day. Her ex-wife had not organized a birthday celebration for her and she phoned her new partner/ lover for solace.
Guilt (A Love Story) by Diane Flacks, directed by Alisa Palmer continues until March 3, 2024, at the Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave. Toronto, Ontario. www.tarragontheatre.com