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A Beautiful View

After 20 years and a dozen groundbreaking productions, experimental Canadian theater group da da kamera is saying goodbye with an appropriately wistful and bittersweet production of Daniel MacIvor's latest play, "A Beautiful View."

After 20 years and a dozen groundbreaking productions, experimental Canadian theater group da da kamera is saying goodbye with an appropriately wistful and bittersweet production of Daniel MacIvor’s latest play, “A Beautiful View.”

MacIvor and producer Sherrie Johnson have been the force behind shows such as “House,” “Cul-de-Sac” and “Monster,” which were developed in Canada and then toured around the world to great acclaim.

But after two decades, MacIvor felt the need to get off the creative treadmill of writing, directing, acting and touring. His farewell gift is this touching, emotionally translucent play.

Two women meet at a camping supply store, then encounter each other again at a club. They’re both odd, quirky loners, but they seem drawn to each other.

Although neither thinks she is gay, they wind up in bed together. But after that single night, they separate — one to marriage, the other to loneliness.

They eventually meet again and settle into a relationship that refuses to be defined. “We’re a couple, aren’t we?,” asks one. “A couple of what?,” counters the other.

Their relationship continues for years, finally coming to grief over one’s single act of infidelity at a Halloween party. But they finally reunite, just in time for an unexpected ending, which combines, humor and horror in equal doses.

Like most of MacIvor’s work, it takes place on a bare stage, with only a bare minimum of props and a superb lighting plot from his usual designer, Kimberly Purtell.

Although the writing is of high quality, much of the piece’s success has to be attributed to its cast of two: Tracy Wright and Caroline Gillis. Both are distinctive actors whom one would never cast in conventional roles. Wright has a brooding air about her that fascinates, while Gillis radiates a kind of melancholy cheer. But it’s the subtlety of their interaction that’s most fascinating.

MacIvor has a serious theme here (he always does); this time around, it seems to be about the necessity of letting the human heart roam free without feeling the need to pin labels on relationships.

As always, he relays his message with a oblique charm that allows us to make our own conclusions.

“A Beautiful View” is a quiet, contemplative work, lacking the punch or razzle-dazzle of other MacIvor works like “Monster.” But in its own way, it scores a bull’s-eye.

A Beautiful View

Buddies In Bad Time Theater, Toronto; 300 Seats; C$29 ($26) Top

Production: A da da kamera production of a play in one act, written and directed by Daniel MacIvor.

Creative: Lighting by Kimberly Purtell. Opened, reviewed May 10, 2006. Running time: 1 HOUR, 40 MIN.

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