On a Friday morning in a “frighteningly well-groomed living room” in Scarborough, Lindalou, 31, is packing up to return to Cape Breton after visiting her mother, Betina, for the first time in five years. Mother and daughter have a turbulent relationship, exchanging refrains of put-downs as a way of avoiding speaking and listening to each other. Lindalou’s 16-year-old son, Curtis, is as much a brother to her: “We grew up together,” she says. When Curtis steps out for a pack of cigarettes and does not return, the young mother fears the worst.
Curtis’ disappearance is the catalyst for a harrowing weekend of hysteria and emotional upheaval. Lindalou’s blistering, smart-mouthed anger wears down to a paralytic terror, while Betina’s blinkered sense of reality, like the plastic cover on her sofa, is ripped away.
The Weekend Healer asks us to question the nature of family, of that much-proffered placebo— “traditional family values”, and of what mothering and fathering are all about.
Bryden MacDonald is a playwright, director, dramaturge, and teacher. His published plays are Whale Riding Weather (1994), The Weekend Healer (1995), Divinity Bash / nine lives (1998), and With Bated Breath (2010). He has created and directed theatrical interpretations of the words and music of Leonard Cohen (The Light Gets In), Carol Pope and Rough Trade (Shaking the Foundations), and Joni Mitchell (When All the Slaves Are Free). His latest play, Stained Glass, is in the works, as is his first novel, The Old Marsh Road. He has taught and coached students at the National Theatre School of Canada and McGill University, served as resident dramaturge at Playwrights Workshop Montreal, and was the mentoring director for Imago Theatre’s Inaugural Directors’ Gym. He has conducted workshops or been artist-in-residence or guest artist at a number of theatres and festivals across the country, including the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Factory Theatre, and Neptune Theatre. He has juried Canada Council for the Arts awards and been a member of the board of directors for the Quebec Drama Federation.