Basil is thoroughly, utterly alone. Streets and houses stand empty, vehicles sit unoccupied, and TV and radio networks are non-existent. For the first 3 months, Basil revels in exploring strangers’ houses, gallivanting solo through malls, and playing dress-up in ritzy clothing stores. However, their solitude’s novelty eventually crumbles and is replaced with crippling loneliness. Desperate for any semblance of human companionship, Basil harnesses their computer programming skills to create Orchid, an AI friend.
Presented by eclectic Edmonton theater company Tiny Bear Jaws, I Don’t Even Miss You is a compelling sci-fi drama written by and starring Elena Belyea. Collaboratively brought to life by RISER Edmonton and RISER Toronto with support from Toronto’s Why Not Theatre. Haunting, heartfelt, and laugh-out-loud 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 a non-binary computer programmer, Basil (Belyea), it is impossible to not be immersed in their plight for connection and finding beauty in their eerily silent world. Through quirky song and dance numbers to heart-rending soliloquies to humorous banter with Orchid (voiced by Vanessa Sabourin), Basil’s emotional journey is utterly compelling. They relay their life story through over 2 dozen short chapters, reminiscing about their childhood, cringing over awkward teenage memories, and recalling their journey through university. Belyea’s script brims with poetic musings, self-deprecating humour, and tearful revelations and explores the prevalent themes of gender identity and social isolation without being heavy-handed.
Complementing Basil’s story are whimsical technical elements including Tori Morrison’s image projections on a backdrop resembling an open book and emotive lighting by Daniela Masellis. The minimal set features objects including a ukulele, coat rack, laptop trolley, and articles of clothing folded neatly on the floor. Despite some sporadic hiccups, the captions 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 piece of theater 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 May 1 matinee and the evening performance on May 3. Sarah Emslie will perform the role of Basil on the May 1 and 3 matinees.
Photo Credits: Brianne Jang