Basil is completely, completely alone. Streets and houses are empty, vehicles are unoccupied and television and radio networks are non-existent. For the first 3 months, Basil delights in exploring strangers’ homes, galloping solo through malls, and dressing up in fancy clothing stores. However, the novelty of their loneliness eventually crumbles and is replaced by a crippling loneliness. Desperate for any semblance of human companionship, Basil harnesses his computer programming skills to create Orchid, an AI friend.
Presented by Edmonton’s eclectic theater company Tiny Bear Jaws, I Don’t Even Miss You is a gripping sci-fi drama written by and starring Elena Belyea. Produced in collaboration by RISER Edmonton and RISER Toronto with support from Toronto’s Why Not Theatre. Mesmerizing, heartfelt and funny, I Don’t Even Miss You is directed by Emma Tibaldo and takes center stage at CO*LAB, an intimate black-box performance space.
From the moment we first meet non-binary computer programmer Basil (Belyea), it’s impossible not to be immersed in their plight of connection and discovery of beauty in their eerily silent world. Through original songs and dance numbers, heartbreaking soliloquies, and humorous banter with Orchid (voiced by Vanessa Sabourin), Basil’s emotional journey is utterly compelling. They tell their life story through over 2 dozen short chapters, reminiscing about their childhood, reminiscing about awkward teenage memories, and reminiscing about their college journey. Belyea’s script is full of poetic musings, self-deprecating humor and tearful revelations and explores widespread themes of gender identity and social isolation without being overbearing.
Basil’s story is complemented by whimsical technical elements, including Tori Morrison’s image projections against an open book-like backdrop and emotive lighting by Daniela Masellis. The minimal set includes items including a ukulele, coat rack, laptop cart, and neatly folded clothes on the floor. Despite a few sporadic hiccups, the subtitles displayed above the stage add a unique and inclusive touch. Combined with Belyea’s moving script and poignant performance, I don’t even miss you is a moving play that lingers with you long after its unconventional conclusion.
I Don’t Even Miss You plays at Edmonton’s CO*LAB performing arts space on May 1, 3 and 4. Masks are required for all audience members and proof of Covid-19 vaccination is required for the matinee on May 1 and the evening show on May 3. Sarah Emslie will play the role of Basil on the matinees on May 1 and 3.
Photo credits: Brianne Jang