Award-winning gay Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor believes the deepest relationships come from friendships.
In A Beautiful View, which he returns to Vancouver to direct for the third time in as many years, MacIvor is out to prove that society’s insistence on confining relationships to neatly defined labels is contrary to our true nature.
“I feel like we’ve been brainwashed by contemporary romantic storytelling from Hollywood. The idea that we all have a soulmate and that our relationships are going to be monogamous is a lie,” he says as he talks about the inspiration for his story of two women who develop a deep and complicated friendship.
Written in a non-linear timeline, A Beautiful View explores the relationship between Linda and Mitch, who, after a chance meeting at a sporting goods store, are indefinably attracted to each other. The play weaves the two women in and out of each other’s lives over two decades.
MacIvor prefers to explore a deeper human connection in A Beautiful View, careful not to label the relationship these women share — a sort of quiet sexuality he says he learned from being part of Queer Nation.
“Queer Nation was a very different world that was incredibly inclusive,” he explains. “It was so much different than LGBTQ labels, too; we were all simply queer. Labelling can be very divisive and sets us up for misery.”
For actors Diane Brown and Colleen Wheeler, removing those labels and intentionally blurring the sexual relationship between their two characters is one of the most powerful aspects of the play.
“While there is a definite sexuality to the play, it is much more complex and cannot be reduced to a single sexual moment,” Brown says. “It is about an honest connection as human beings, about the things we find attractive in people, not just the physical.”
Wheeler agrees, explaining that A Beautiful View transcends simple sexuality, resulting in something more truthful.
“It is not difficult to look at a beautiful woman and be attracted to her,” she says. “But in Daniel’s work the lines are blurred, allowing us to be more honest about the relationship these two women share.”
Brown and Wheeler also agree that much of the success of A Beautiful View comes from MacIvor’s ability to write such strong and multifaceted roles for women.
“Maybe it’s a gay thing,” MacIvor says, at the suggestion that perhaps he is more attuned to his feminine side as a gay man. “But I think it is more environmental. Having been raised by my mother and aunt, and being surrounded by so much female energy and dialogue, I grew up in a world where there wasn’t a lot of testosterone, and I absorbed it.”