Northern Light Theatre's new season starts with a play about the world women face, and the friendships they need to endure it
By Cory Schachtel | January 18, 2023
Every worker in a service job knows how to put on a happy (or at least neutral) face, no matter how they’re actually feeling, especially if they’re a woman. And that requirement might apply most strongly to the role of flight attendant, one of the most gendered occupations. But you never know what the person serving you is going through. Sometimes, the pressure builds, and even the bravest faces can break.
In Northern Light Theatre’s first 2023 show, Enough, Toni and Jane are flight attendant friends, but Director Trevor Schmidt says the show is about much more than their struggle to smile at work. “They’re flight attendants, but it’s not really about their job. It’s about their sense of identity, the presentation of their lives to the public, and the difference between that and their real personal lives,” he says.
The lifelong friends have chosen different paths in life — one is married with kids, the other is unmarried but in a relationship with a guy, “and they each have a perception of what the other person’s life is like. But that’s not the real truth of it.”
Written by Scotland’s Stef Smith, the play takes that feeling of wearing different masks in different situations out of the sky and into Fringe Theatre, where it explores the natural tendency to compare your life with someone else’s — even a close friend’s. “It’s about the pursuit of perfection, trying to have it all, and how you can’t possibly sustain that,” Schmidt says. “Steph has talked a lot about this, and I think it’s really true, that the play is about female friendships, how women are often pitted against each other, and how they support each other through difficult times.”
Always looking for a directorial challenge, Schmidt says the company took this play on because “it’s a very difficult text, with many light and sound shifts throughout, because of the way it skips around in time and point of view. The performers (Kristin Johnston and Linda Grass) do scenes with each other where they talk in naturalistic dialogue. And then they narrate themselves. And there’s bits of poetry kind of stuff that they repeat over and over, and they also narrate in the third person for the other character.”
The play’s press release says this season the company will present plays about horror, fear, and hope. So which one is this? “I think it’s definitely fear, and it’s definitely hope. There’s some stuff that’s quite horrific — it’s definitely not a comfortable show — but I think it actually travels to a really great, hopeful place at the end, where the characters admit they need each other. I find it quite moving.”