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Theatre / Perfect Pie

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Come with me. We have to get away from here, come with me.

"You might want to see your old friend."
— Patsy

Perfect Pie is a play written in 2000 by Judith Thompson.

The play is the story of two women (and only two: no one else technically appears other than their past selves) meeting and reconciling after decades of never speaking to each other. Pasty Willet is a middle-aged woman who lives on a family farm in a small town in Ontario. Her life, married with several children, is not perfect but is by no means awful. Eventually, however, she finds herself dictating a message by tape to Francesca, a famous actress, and inviting her over to visit nearly out of the blue.

She explains it's been years, after all, and she misses Marie Begg, the girl who had been her best friend from the day they met. Marie, now called Francesca, who is beautiful, renowned, and never able to shake the sense of being alone in the world, finds herself agreeing despite her trepidation. She returns to visit the small town where everyone had treated her as less than dirt- everyone, that is, but Patsy.

Together, they awkwardly try and piece back the relationship that had broken the night that something terrible had happened to the girl who had been named Marie until then, and which had ended with Patsy in a coma and Marie running away to become Francesca.

In 2002 it was adapted into a film starring Wendy Crewson (Patsy) and Barbara Wilson (Francesca).

Tropes found in this play include:

  • Abusive Parents: Both of Marie's: while her father is 'just' extraordinarily neglectful and constantly drunk, her mother is physically and emotionally abusive to her.
  • Adaptational Context Change: Marie's apology to Patsy, which she thought to herself in a diner in the play, is said at Parsy's bedside while she's in her coma in the movie. In the movie, this makes her come across as far more horrified and in the throes of guilt and self-loathing than she did in the play.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Several things are simplified from play to movie:
    • Marie's parental issues are just her alcoholic and abusive mother, instead of also having her negligent father involved.
    • Marie is an outcast mainly due to her poverty, with the difficulties from her being Catholic largely absent and her backstory of having recently moved back home from the States removed entirely.
    • The details of Francesca's three husbands and why she divorced them are largely skipped over.
    • Marie's time as a runaway isn't brought up.
  • Adaptation Expansion: In the movie Francesca comes to sing for a charity event Patsy is holding, and stays for the weekend instead of just the day. This gives the movie time to put in multiple subplots that weren't in the play, including Marie and Patsy having been in church chorus, them having planned on competing in a musical competition, and Francesca meeting and reconciling with the date who abandoned her at the dance.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: In the play, Marie's reluctance at going swimming is because she's afraid of having a seizure while she's in the water. In the movie she doesn't have seizures, leaving her fear of going swimming inexplicable.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Marie's last name changes from Begg to Beck.
    • Francesca becomes Francesca Prine, when in the play she had Only One Name.
    • Marie's date's name becomes Don Rayford instead of Donny Neilson.
    • The town changes from Marmota to Marmora.
  • Adapted Out: Marie's father, who doesn't appear and is never mentioned in the movie.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Marie... sticks out in Marmota, what with being Catholic, moving from the States, and being dirt poor. And thus, Marie is treated as "the town dog", with behavior from the other kids ranging from barking and coughing whenever she comes near to throwing dog poop at her to outright assaulting her. Even after becoming a star, Francesca admits she can't shake the feeling of having a "stain" on her that people will see and shun her for again.
  • Anachronic Order: The story shifts between the reunion of Patsy and Francesca as adults and the growing friendship between Patsy and Marie as children, with both building up to moments of crisis on the train tracks for the climax.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Patsy repeats a line the book of Isaiah to Marie several times to describe how she feels about her: "I will not forget you, you are carved in the palm of my hand."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Francesca leaves, admitting that she can't bear to stay for fear that she'll become Marie Begg again, with Patsy concluding that this was the last time they they'd ever see each other again. But the bond between them has been repaired, with Francesca finally able to move past the guilt and trauma she's been carrying ever since the accident and Patsy saying that she'll never forget her.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: In the movie, Marie says her goodbyes and apologies at Patsy's bedside while Patsy is still in her coma, nearly breaking down in tears while telling her that she'll never come back and bother her again.
  • Delicate and Sickly:
    • Marie has seizures and brittle bones (from malnourishment) as a kid; when they're grown up, it's Patsy who's ill instead.
    • In the movie, Marie has brittle bones and asthma as a child, while Patsy has seizures has the same way Marie did in the play.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Being called 'Marie' makes Francesca start to feel like Marie, which isn't something she wants; Patsy unconsciously lapses in and out of calling her it.
  • Down on the Farm: Patsy and her family have been farmers for generations; the play takes place mostly on her dairy farm.
  • Embarrassing Last Name: Marie Begg, who's the poorest girl in town; she understandably hates it, though Patsy says she thinks it's a beautiful, old-fashioned name.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Patsy and Marie were so close as kids that they could do this. By the end of the play they can do it again.
  • Genki Girl: Patsy as a child is exuberant, guileless, and carefree; even as an adult, she's far more expressive than Francesca.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Marie and Patsy's friendship started when they were eight years old, and only got stronger: they were the center of each other's worlds, and would do anything for each other. They loved each other, purely and unconditionally, and big part of the play centers on how that bond still ties them together and finding out that they still love each other after all these years and all that's happened to them.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Patsy, both as a child and as an adult, accidentally insults Marie with innocent but offensive comments.
    Patsy: Are you poor?
    Marie: No.
    Patsy: You look poor.
  • Interrupted Suicide: After being raped Marie went down to stand on the train tracks to wait to be hit by the train, and Patsy followed her and initially dragged her off. During the struggle, though, Patsy (who was extremely ill and feverish) became convinced that Marie was right about the awfulness of the world and that the best solution was for them both to die together. Marie then had to try and pull Patsy off the tracks before the train came... somewhat less successfully, since Patsy was significantly bigger and stronger than her, leading to Patsy still being hit with a glancing blow from the train.
  • Kids Are Cruel: It's the treatment of all the other kids in town apart from Patsy that make Marie's life such hell growing up. They continuously mock and destroy any scrape of self-esteem of hers, and in the play none of them ever show any remorse for their actions.
  • Leitmotif: The aria "Dido's Lament" is one for Francesca/Marie in the movie.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Patsy lies and tells her mother, who is dying in the hospital, that her sons/Patsy's brothers are on their way. This lets her die peacefully knowing that her family loves her, instead of anguished by the truth that Patsy was the only one of her children who cared enough to come to her when they were told she was dying.
  • Minimalist Cast: The only characters are adult and child Patsy and Francesca, apart from a brief scene at the prom.
  • New Transfer Student: Part of what originally draws Patsy's attention to Marie; she moved to town from Detroit, and Patsy's never met anyone who's actually been to the States before.
  • One Head Taller: In the movie, Patsy is one head taller than Marie when they first meet, and remains taller than her throughout their childhood. The actresses who play them as adults are the same height.
  • Only Friend: Patsy to Marie; she even asks at one point why Patsy never caught the "hate Marie Begg" fever that everyone else seemed to have.
    Don: Are any of your friends here?
    Marie: No, Patsy's at home with the flu.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Patsy's real name (Patricia) is mentioned only once in the entire play, and is very easy to miss completely.
  • The Pig-Pen: Played for drama: Marie's family can't afford enough water to let her bathe regularly, and the dirt and smell is yet another thing that makes her a target.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Marie's date, Don, apologizes when she returns to Marmota for leaving her at the dance in the movie, and they share a kiss as they reconcile; in the play, he's never mentioned after he abandoned her.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: We cut from the boys unzipping their pants and Marie having a seizure to Marie returning to Patsy's house a mess, blood and urine on the back of her dress.
  • Self-Harm: Marie burns her face to try and destroy her acne cysts until Patsy stops her.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: After Patsy helps Marie dress up for the prom; the stage directions even say "We can see the beautiful woman she will become".
  • Shout-Out: Patsy and Marie practice the poems they learn for class and sing songs together; for some reason, almost all of them are Harmful to Minors.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: While Marie really doesn't swear very much, the fact that she swears at all is enough to get Patsy to treat her like one, especially when they're kids.
  • Small Town Boredom: Marie had it as a kid, though it was mostly because of the way the rest of the town treated her.
  • Teens Are Monsters: It was a group of teenage boys around her age who assaulted 16-year old Marie at the prom, causing her to have a seizure before they rape her.
  • T-Word Euphemism: Played for laughs, when Patsy was horrified at Marie for saying "the "F" word" after Marie said shit.
    Marie: That's not the "F" word.
  • That Man Is Dead: By the end of the play Francesca tells Patsy that she isn't Marie Begg anymore... but continues on to say that she also isn't Francesca anymore, either.