Dissolve has been on tour across Canada for the past ten years. Writer Meagan Gardiner, who tragically lived the events, also performed it before recently handing over the acting reins to the magnetic Emmelia Gordon.
Gardiner has cleverly constructed her play where we see the young woman through the eyes of others or while she is in her bathroom getting ready to go out. Told in a time-tripping style, we watch as a young woman gets ready for a night out dancing and clubbing as we cut to club bouncers and patrons observing her as she is slipped a ‘roofie’. Forgoing the “date rape” label which implies consent, Gardiner more accurately insists what is taking place is “chemically facilitated sexual assault”, where the victim has no idea what has happened.
Gordon is an accomplished artist and all of the characters she portrays are deeply detailed. Where sometimes you watch a one-person show with multiple characters there is a tendency to admire the craftsmanship above the story, but here the combined work of director Renee Iaci, the playwright and the performer pulls us deeply into this experience.
The multiple characters portrayed by Gordon are pushed to their extremes without going overboard and while you laugh at the extremes and get caught up in the excitement and danger of clubbing, the dynamic journey quickly sobers when we realize that a guy often spurned by our protagonist has deliberately altered her consciousness. Her resulting humiliation and alienation, particularly by her peers, is harrowing. No one is laughing now.
With a dynamic that is bracing, this is a show that everyone needs to see. With its original and empowering message of inspiring bystanders to become “upstanders”, it may not stop the drugging but it can help protect the victims.
Dissolve will make you laugh and cry, but it will also challenge and implore. Combined, this makes for riveting, rewarding and engaging theatre.
By Meghan Gardiner. Directed by Renee Iaci. A Shameless Hussy Productions presentation. No more performances (although the show is looking to go on tour). Visit http://www.shamelesshussy.com for more information.