Never the Last is a beautiful play created by Molly MacKinnon and Christine Quintana. The two creators together with Amitai Marmorstein perform the piece which is far more than a simple play.
First, we have a solo violin concert featuring ten caprices by Sophie Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté and played by Molly MacKinnon. A statuesque beauty, Molly, aside from some vocalizing, is a silent character. She gives an impressive performance as a violinist and the music she performs is a main part of the play.
The other female character is Sophie the composer, called Sonia in the play and played by Christine Quintana. The play is inspired by the life of Sophie Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté who was born in Russia in 1899, lived in Europe and Canada and was a prodigious composer.
The third character is Walter (Marmorstein) a young artist. Walter and Sonia met at an art show after World War I and exchanged some sharp pleasantries, fell in love, married and led a tempestuous life in Europe. But this is no ordinary play with Wildean repartee though it does have some of that. Molly, identified only as The Violinist is ever present and instructed by Sonia to play ten caprices. Sonia instructs The Violinist on how to play the pieces and it seems to me that the violinist is Sonia’s alter ego as she steps in and out of the action.
As much as Sonia’s music is represented by The Violinist, Walter’s abstract art or at least pieces of it are projected on the screen on the set designed by Jenn Stewart and projection designer Joel Grinke.
Walter and Sonia, the painter and the composer, live through the turbulent 1920s and go through the difficulties of poverty and neglect but this is no sob story. The end of the relationship is truly tragic.
The creators have added movement choreographed by Kayla Dunbar and Sonia sings.
The play is directed with intelligence and expertise by Laura McLean.
As mentioned, the play is inspired by the real-life story of the marriage of the Russian Sonia and the German Walter Gramatté during the 1920s. It is a tribute to the two people and a display of wonderful creative talent by MacKinnon and Quintana. It is equally a display of fine acting by Quintana and Marmorstein and as mentioned of the fine playing by MacKinnon.
Never the Last by Molly MacKinnon and Christine Quintana, a Theatre Passe Muraille presentation of a Delinquent Theatre Production, played until April 16, 2023, at Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Avenue, Toronto, Ontario. www.passemuraille.on.ca