I was chilling at home with Winston the Cat the other day, when he suddenly reminded me that “Dude, you haven’t been to the Gladstone in a while! What’s up with that?” After a few bewildered moments of “OH MY GOD YOU CAN TALK!”, I realized Winston was correct, so I headed out, putting his unsettling outburst out out my mind forever.
Teaming up with Reena Belford, recently wrapping up a fun run as scheming Regan in GNAG theatre’s KING LEAR, we sauntered in on a slowish Tuesday night for the Gladstone’s latest, Brian Friel’s THE COMMUNICATION CORD from Seven Thirty Productions. Billed as a language-based farce, and directed by 730 top dog John P.Kelly, the show’s set from David Magladry looked appropriately quaint, and oddly reminiscent of the rustic staging of DR.FELL not too long ago. I was looking forward to the show, mostly on account of a few familiar faces in the cast, and they did not disappoint.
After a somewhat long-winded setup, we learn that our bookish hero Tim (Plosive’s David Whiteley, in a rare, unbearded moment) is looking to impress the Father of his would-be sweetheart Susan (the always terrific Kat Smiley) by pretending to be the owner of an ancient Irish dwelling, as this sort of thing seems to appeal to the otherwise grim-faced Senator (Alain Chamsi). Borrowing temporary use of said home from his friend Jack (Smooth Tim Oberholzer, making a memorable and playful rogue), things start to go wrong from the get-go, as they tend to do in anything calling itself a farce. A few unexpected guests make a hash out of Tim’s plans, and his desperate lies to try and cover things up rapidly spin out of control. And I have to admit, it’s the ‘unexpected guests’ who really make the show sit up and start to cook. The wunnerful Janet Uren as craftier-than-she-looks nosy neighbour Nora Dan delights when on the stage, and Michelle leBlanc is so ridiculously fun and, quite frankly, sexy as Tim’s old flame Claire, that she damn near steals the show.
That is, until Steve Martin (not that one) shows up as clueless German ‘Barney the Banks’, and then everything goes merrily to Hell. It’s a dream role for any actor, and Martin owns it without shame…if you see the show, his madly smiling face is the image you’ll take away with you, trust me. When Genevieve Sirois shows up late in the game as the third Yvette (inside joke), it’s the icing on the cake.
CORD is a pretty dang fun show, if a little choppy in parts…some of Tim’s exposition on linguistic theory don’t engage as much as might be hoped, and I still can’t figure out how much certain players were or were not involved in the central scheme. But these are questions for another time, not farce-watching time, surely we can agree on that. It’s a good, goofy night with some great talent on and off stage, and some peppy Irish tunes to enjoy at intermission. And what mores could ya ask for? Peace, love and soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)