Kat Sandler blurs the lines between reality and fantasy in heartfelt Tarragon Theatre debut
Presented by Tarragon Theatre
Written by Kat Sandler
Directed by Ashlie Corcoran
At what age do we stop believing in our imagination? What happens if we never let go of our childhood dreams? Kat Sandler's latest play, Mustard, on stage now as part of Tarragon Theatre's 2016 season, explores these questions with the same entertaining combination of dark humour and honesty that has come to define her work over the years.
The story follows Teenage Thai (Rebecca Liddiard) who still has an imaginary friend named Mustard (Anand Rajaram) living under her bed. Despite Mustard's attempts at making her laugh, Thai begins to pull away from her old pal, getting into fights at school and dating an older guy. Meanwhile, Thai's mother, Sadie (Sarah Dodd), recently divorced and looking for solace at the bottom of a wine glass, tries to persuade her daughter that having an imaginary friend at sixteen is not normal, when suddenly she starts seeing him too.
At the same time, Mustard is being hunted by a pair of fantasy world thugs, Leslie (Julian Richings) and his dim-witted sidekick Bug (Tony Nappo), who threaten to dismember him if he doesn't return from whence he came. They warn that terrible things will happen if he overstays his welcome as Thai's imaginary friend. Mustard risks his safety, remaining longer than he should until he is sure that Thai and Sadie can take care of each other.
Sandler's fast-paced script is perfectly complemented by director Ashlie Corcoran's fluid, energetic staging and strong performances by the cast. Liddiard stands out as the troubled Thai, Dodd is truly lovable as her struggling mother and Rajaram's Mustard gets non-stop laughs while tugging on our heartstrings. Paolo Santalucia is also hilarious as Thai's hapless boyfriend Jay. Not to mention audience favourites Richings and Nappo fully commit to their roles as makebelieve tough guys. The 90-minute production also boasts a creative set and costumes by Michael Gianfrancesco, compelling sound design by Christopher Stanton and effective iighting by Graeme S. Thomson and Nick Andison.
Described as a a whimsical story about loss, family, growing up, and our need to belong, Mustard delivers what it promises. Fans of Sandler's work will not be disappointed. It's satisfying to see the popular indie theatre artist make her mark on the mainstage.
Mustard runs until March 13, 2016 in the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace. Visit tarragontheatre.com for more information and to buy tickets.