Friday, September 22, 2023

Frost Bites Review: A Latte For Mahsa

Who: Switchboard Theatre
What: A Latte for Mahsa
Length: 45 minutes
Bernie Morelli Rec Centre (876 Cannon Street East)
When: Remaining show February 19 at 2:30pm
Tickets: $15.50
To Buy Tickets:

For as long as humans have been able to communicate, it’s been a good idea to think before you speak or act. As our societies grew and we became more closely connected, this has only become truer over time. In the age of the internet, it’s more important than ever before: anything you say can end up going viral, and small actions can have huge consequences. Good intentions can lead to serious problems, bad intentions can have positive side-effects, and anything that catches on can spiral wildly and unpredictably out of control.

A Latte For Mahsa is an incredible story about three people living in Hamilton: Pary, Betty and Many. The first is an Iranian immigrant studying at McMaster University, the second is an online influencer living in the area, and the third is a barista working at a cafe on the McMaster campus. One day, after hearing about the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran, Pary decides to order a latte under Mahsa’s name. It seems like a minor act of rebellion, but when a recording of the moment goes viral overnight, it ends up having a massive impact on them, their loved ones, and millions of strangers all over the world. Their lives are changed forever, and not necessarily for the better.

The cast of A Latte For Mahsa puts on an exceptional performance: engaging, immersive, and highly coordinated. All three characters have impressive depth, with convincing motivations that make them feel like real people. There are no heroes or villains in this show; everyone is a complex individual, doing what they think is best at the time and remaining sympathetic from their own perspective. Sometimes a cast member needs to double as a secondary character, but they give just as much life to these minor characters as they do to their main ones. Fittingly for a story about the internet, it feels like everyone has lives outside of what we see in the play, in spite of their status as fictional characters.

Credit should also be given to the show’s crew. The show makes excellent use of lights, sound and set design, and it works together with the writing and direction to create a more polished performance. Like most plays, it’s a collaborative effort: everyone involved should be proud of what they’ve done.

As for anyone who might be reading this: if you’re in or around the city of Hamilton at the time of writing, you’re probably close enough to see A Latte for Mahsa. It’s a great opportunity that I’d absolutely recommend taking.

Arthur Bullock
Arthur Bullock
Arthur Bullock is a graduate of McMaster University, Mohawk College and Algonquin College. He's spent nearly all his life in Hamilton, and has been reviewing plays at the Fringe since 2015. He has a passion for writing of all kinds, and loves to combine that with a longtime interest in local theatre.

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