Apr 03

‘If I Weren’t With You’ looks at the trials of marriage through song

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

Sometimes, couples need to fight to stay together, or even fight to stay married. And there is always that lingering question in all relationships, where would I be if I weren’t in this relationship? This is the question that sparked the narrative of Lunchbox Theatre’s world premiere musical If I weren’t with you, by Joe Slabe.

The play tells of a couple who are at a crossroads in their marriage. Pam (Katharine Fadum) is feeling a little off and unhappy and Allan (JP Thibodeau) is struggling to understand why. They both confide their feelings to their friend Steve (Joe Slabe) who is stuck in the middle. Steve wants the couple to work out their issues, their relationship being a constant in his life.

The music of If I weren’t with you is catchy and captures a lot of the questions that come up in the narrative. The musical number ‘Everything is fine’ is a great depiction of the issues that plague the relationship. How Pam doesn’t really want to talk about it, how she shouldn’t dwell on what the relationship is not. It’s fine. And fine is one of those trigger words in every relationship, (especially when Pam says everything is predominantly fine). It triggers Allen in this case, who probes her to find out what’s wrong.

This leads to a conversation about how the passion has disappeared and how their relationship has changed, how they are growing apart. It all unravels from here. Pam goes to the bar (a cleverly coordinated feature of the set by Deitra Kalyn) to talk with Steve, where she explains that she feels like being in a relationship has rearranged who she was and how she always has someone there. Steve provides the contrast to her woes, being single, he has trouble understanding her feelings. ‘Maybe you can’t expect to feel the same way you did nine years ago’ is his level-headed advice. A couple of days later, Allan comes to see him at the same bar. There is a great jazzy piece here entitled ‘In your shoes’ that features some uninhibited dancing on Thibodeau’s part.

Kalyn’s set design is well done, featuring a piano in the middle of the stage and moving tables that allow the characters to go from Pam and Allan’s house to the bar. The clever use of an open sign that lights up facing away from the audience accesorizes Steve’s bar. Kalyn’s costume design also has Fadum accessorized in an interesting metal necklace and pretty earrings.

If I weren’t with you features some good performances and strong singing on all parts. The storyline deals with the issues that come up within relationships with a sensitivity, illustrating that there isn’t a magic solution and relationships require work. It’s a thoughful narrative on the trials of marriage, done in song.

If I weren’t with you runs at Lunchbox Theatre until April 20th. More information is available online.
(Three and a half stars out of five)

Photo Credit: Katherine Fadum as Pam, Joe Slabe as Steve and JP Thibodeau as Allan in If I Weren’t With You by Joe Slabe, photo by Benjamin Laird.


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