Theatre review: Henry and Alice: Into the Wild

By Ali Omelaniec

Out of their comfort zones and Into the Wild, Henry and Alice return for the sequel to 2004‘s Sexy Laundry

Into the Wild is a comedic take on the woes of unemployment, family conflict, and mid-life crises. The plot is one we’ve all heard before: a married couple is struggling with economic hardship, and are looking to rekindle the spark that was lost somewhere along the way. Despite this, the sincerity of the characters and lifelike descriptions of a marriage on the rocks make the play easy to relate to.

Susinn McFarlen and Andrew Wheeler play Alice and Henry, a couple looking to rekindle their marriage with a holiday in the woods. However, Alice’s image of a cottage retreat or RV trip are replaced by a few days spent in a tent, not an ideal situation for a wife used to a spending her days shopping for designer shoes and buying decor at Pottery Barn.

While the play kept the audience laughing throughout, there were just a few too many stereotypical ‘Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” jokes, from women being obsessed with shopping and designer brands to men and their refusal to ask for help, like when Henry, an obviously unseasoned camper, sets a tent up inside out.

The life of the party is Alice’s little sister: rebellious, leather-clad Diana, who shows up at the campground with her motorcycle to join the couple on their trip, much to Henry’s distaste. Complete with grotesque humour and an exuberant personality, Diana is reminiscent of Bridesmaids’ Megan. As the central source of comic relief and a tool for uprooting deeper family conflicts, she is an audience favourite.

While her spontaneous sister lives on the edge of uncertainty, Alice finds herself questioning her comparably stable marriage and what she wants from life. The humour is broken up by these moments of metaphorical discussion and heartfelt dialogue between the couple. Alice and Henry both deal with their own type of midlife crisis: Henry is stripped bare of his tough, no-funny-business exterior to reveal his inner weaknesses and vulnerability while Alice begins a process of self-discovery. Seeing the inner turmoils of these characters causes the audience to feel sympathetic and become involved in the challenges Henry and Alice are facing.

The saving grace of the piece is the witty banter between the characters, and the time Beverly Elliot spends onstage — occasionally topless. Besides the seen-it-before storyline, this play is overall quite charming and hilarious with a satisfying — albeit expected — conclusion.