"Poly Queer Love Ballad" is a fresh take on the well-worn romantic comedy/drama - and not because it's a girl-meets-girl story. It's because one of them is polyamorous.
Gaby (Sara Vicruck) is a singer-songwriter with spiky blonde Billy Idol hair and a full-on, get-what-she-wants attitude. She meets Nina (Anais West), a shy poet, at Cafe Du Soleil, and the sexy sparks fly. But they're opposites in more ways then they realize - not just in looks and personality, but in their radically different approach to relationships. Nina is polyamorous - maintaining more than one partner at one time. Gaby, despite her rebellious demeanour, is ironically the more traditional-minded one and prefers a conventionally monogamous relationship.
As Gaby tries to overcome her reservations and deal with jealousy, and Nina navigates the balance between Gaby, her "primary," and her male "secondary partner", things start to get challenging.
Through sharp, smart and funny writing, seamlessly integrated with accomplished, tuneful songs, "PQLB" paints a compelling and convincing portrait of a couple attempting to live beyond conventional boundaries, but finding it far more challenging than they expected or hoped. It's a realistic representation of those challenges - which if solved, offer a more expansive view of what commitment can look like, but if not, can mean the loss of a loving connection.
Polyamory comes with its own terminology, and a "cheat sheet" included with the program helpfully defines terms like "compersion", "non-hierarchical poly" and more – though everything was made crystal clear in the context of the play itself.
Technically, this is a polished show with very creative use of that "looping pedal" device to create layered backgrounds on-the-fly - including one built entirely from Tinder interface sounds (I assume!). True to their characters, Gaby contributes a beautiful singing voice and multi-instrument accompaniment, and Nina delivers many of her inner thoughts via some very affecting and evocative poetry.
Especially in the early stages, the show is laugh-out-loud funny. It's also peppered with local references that really hit the mark - like one song's reference to cycling "down Ontario - a scary scenario!"
It's also well-staged, making good use of the Revue Stage's space, both on- and off-stage.
With strong, engaging performances, great music and sound design, and a funny, touching story that also explores polyamory, a topic rarely dealt with in this way, the result is a satisfying show that will leave you with a lot to think and talk about. Bring your friends, your primary, and your secondary!