This Is What Happens Next
Daniel MacIvor returns to the stage in emotional epic
Guess who’s back.
An emotionally-wounded Daniel MacIvor returned to the stage to perform This Is What Happens Next, a 90-minute tale that wove together stories of alcoholism, sexual identity, divorce, love and death.
MacIvor had announced some years ago that he was through with performing and was settling down with his then-husband. But, following a bitter divorce, MacIvor returned to the stage where he has always has a place.
Presented by Alberta Theatre Projects and One Yellow Rabbit, MacIvor takes the stage at the Martha Cohen Theatre through the end of January until early February.
The style of This Is What Happens Next is familiar to those previously accustomed to MacIvor’s one-man plays, including Monster and House, but upon exiting the theatre, complaints echoed from audience members who “just didn’t get it.”
The constant switches between characters, the invisible “giant” that presents tension and sus- pense, and the underlying mes- sages may have come and gone too quickly for some. But those who could follow along with MacIvor’s quick and intimate recount of each character’s tale were in for a memorable performance.
Still a master of the stage, the Canadian-born actor and play- wright captivates the audience with his clever wordplay and his ability to physically cycle between characters.
MacIvor first introduces us to Warren, a broken-hearted gay man who has just broken up with his partner and all he wants is his stuff back, specifically a cherished John Denver album.
In a later scene, MacIvor’s heated conversation — between Warren and the boyfriend — has him switching between both char- acters by merely looking left or right. Think Gollum arguing with Sméagol and you’ll have some idea of what MacIvor is able to do live, and convincingly enough that you’ll hardly need to suspend your disbelief.
The dialogue of an unhappy, passive-aggressive couple on the verge of a breakup was far too familiar.
MacIvor convinces us he is an alcoholic father, a transgendered male, a seven-(or eight)-year-old boy and a female lawyer-slash- Warren’s friend, among others. The characters presented feel more real and believable than some that MacIvor has previously portrayed.
This Is What Happens Next is driven by each character’s desire for a happy ending and perhaps this is MacIvor’s way of saying that he too wants a happy ending.
While each character may not entirely reflect MacIvor’s inner- demons, he has mentioned before that his father was a “chronic alcoholic,” which may have guided his choice in characters.
He also brings up a philosophy book written by Arthur Schopenhauer numerous times, one of the few props that MacIvor uses throughout the performance. Schopenhauer’s belief is that our world is driven by the never-end- ing desire for satisfaction.
This theme is brought up throughout the show through the actions and reactions of the characters.
The powerful addictions that encompass the characters in This Is What Happens Next makes for an emotional joyride that brings each story together into one epic conclusion.