Marcus Youssef

Boxes filled with memories piled high on stage, an electronic keyboard, and a walker—what transpires over the course of Marcus Youssef’s How Has My Love Affected You?, a one-act, 90-minute play is a tender, personal account of family obligations, memories, and personal strife, recalled through words and song.

Zak Youssef

Veda Hille’s lovingly-composed music is written to correlate with Roleene’s dream journals and countless diaries of life that encapsulates her youth, university years, divorce fallout to seeking solace through living in hotels for months on end. Marcus goes through several of the journals, photos, and documents in the presence of his teenage son Zak (on vocals and keyboard).

Marcus and Zak Youssef

Together they role-play, share a few laughs, and take the audience on a whirlwind tour of the life that is Roleene.

Love her or hate her, Marcus has a wealth of relationship tales to share with the audience. According to Marcus, “it’s me attempting to tell—as truthfully as I can—a story that’s based on a bunch of stuff that really happened, to me, and my loved ones. It’s just my point of view, and in many ways the piece is about how you can discover that your point of view is only your point of view.”

Marcus Youssef

The title of the play refers to a piece of writing that Marcus discovered hidden in the back of a cabinet near packs of long-abandoned non-dairy creamer. “How Has My Love Affected You?” becomes the question that Youssef sets out to answer during the course of the play.

To give you an idea as to some of the brutal truth that Marcus discovers on his journey through the diaries, witness May 1, 2000: “I wouldn’t mind forgetting Marcus, his name, everything. And his father George.”

Marcus Youssef

The story is given added dimension by using a smartly crafted DIY banker’s box projector that shows the audience up close and personal photos from his life on a projection screen. He’s even got his parents portrayed as cutout dolls pasted onto wooden sticks for a bit of hilarity in an otherwise intense experience.

Much of the audience was blown away as the house lights came up. This story speaks to many of us dealing with elderly parents, difficult relationships, and ways to cope with the baggage you’re left with.

Marcus Youssef

After the show, I briefly spoke with Marcus about opening up such difficult life experiences to an audience of strangers. He definitely feels a release after each show. He’s been on stage with this story in the past, via a slightly different story and setup, but in the end, it’s all about the connection you make with others who’ve perhaps gone through some of the same emotional drain.

Marcus Youssef is the artistic director of Neworld Theatre in Vancouver, as well as an award-winning actor, writer, teacher and producer. And during this particular show, he plays the most important role of all—that of Roleene Youssef’s son.

How Has My Love Affected You?” is complex, humourous, intelligently staged and a lovingly told ode to one’s mother. The Arts Club Theatre production continues at Granville Island’s Revue Stage through March 23.

All photos by David Cooper.

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