Real-life, world-spanning love story at heart of next Persephone show

Photo Credit: Matthew MacKenzie (left) and Mariya Khomutova (right) wrote and perform in First Metis Man of Odesa, a play based on their own life stories. (Supplied / Photo by Olivia Swerhone-Wick, Persephone Theatre).

Sometimes, the real story is plenty compelling without embellishment.

That’s the case for the real-life romance of Ukrainian theatre artist Mariya Khomutova and Métis playwright Matthew MacKenzie.

“We just based it on the amazing story of our meeting and our love and our romance, and troubles we had later,” Khomutova said. “We didn’t have to invent anything. We just sort of wrote the facts, and it was already a play. The play was there.”

The whirlwind life experiences of Khomutova and MacKenzie are the basis for First Métis Man of Odesa, the new Canadian play and the next show to grace the stage at Persephone Theatre.

The play follows the story of Matt, a well-traveled playwright who makes his way to Ukraine while working on a new theatre project. He meets Ukrainian performer Masha, and the budding romance and burgeoning family between the two spans both countries and worldwide crises including the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

If the character names sound similar to those of the artists, that’s by design — the now-married pair of Khomutova and MacKenzie co-wrote this show from their own life stories, and play the fictionalized versions of themselves in the two-person play.


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