The 100-Year Fever

Pardon for the lack of Foofarah this Monday…work all day, and Improv all night made for a distinct lack off blogging time.  You’ll be happy, or utterly disinterested, to hear that the workshop went swimmingly. I had a blast with loads of good folk under the tutelage of Ken Godmere, had cereal with Ray Besharah, and learned a thing or two about myself. In the end Ken went with two high-energy folks, Jen and Andrew, to form his BOUT TIME team for the evening, and they did a bang-up job.  I’ll definitely be back for the next workshop (Kirsten Rasmussen, yay!)

But in the meantime, theatre rolls on.  And in the case of the Ottawa Little Theatre,  it rolls on and on and ON, centuries be damned.  Yes, the OLT (formerly the Ottawa Drama League, for those of you from 1916 or so) is having its hundredth anniversary this year, and to celebrate they’re rolling out one play from each decade they’ve been around.  First up was the one I saw last night, the classic comedy HAY FEVER from sir Noel Coward.  The whole OLT gang is clearly excited about the new season, and I have to say right off the bat…nice gimmick with the national anthem.  But, on with the show!

FEVER revolves around a rather silly weekend at the country home of the Bliss family, a stylish and mannered clan of upper-crust misfits who behave in much the same way I imagine the Addams Family of their time would have.  Led by aging stage queen Judith (Diana Renee Yorke) and her reclusive writer husband David (Klaas Van Weringh), both of whom make little effort to teach their teenage children (Sorel and Simon, played by Katie Volkert and Jeremy Piamonte) anything approaching useful.  On the weekend in question every family member has invited a ‘special guest’ up to the house, without informing anyone else and expecting to have the run of the place.  Merry chaos ensues as diplomatist Richard (Penu Chalykoff), boxer Sandy (Andrew Stewart), flapper Jackie (Katie Kaufman), and sophisticated wit Myra (Zoe Tupling) try to navigate the ill-mannered Bliss household, and keep on the good side of put-upon housekeeper Clara (Gail Malloy).

Director Tim Ginley has put together one of the best casts I’ve ever seen on the OLT stage, and they milk Cowards witty script for every laugh they can get.  Dianna Yorke’s grandstanding Judith is the easy hit of the show, swooping in and stealing scenes with calculated melodrama and hilarious insincerity.  The youngsters are great as well…Katie Volkert’s eternally pouting Sorel plays (and screams) very nicely against Jeremy Piamonte’s self-impressed Simon.  Zoe Tupling nails vicious zingers one after another as Myra, and Richard Greatham as Richard makes for a pretty damn funny straight man.  And Katie Kaufman’s deer-in-the-headlights Jackie got the whole room laughing with a well-timed snap of her head.  It was one of the funniest nights out at the theatre I’ve had in a while (and the costumes have never been better).  I was a little worried about the two intermission breaks, but even with them the night breezed by.  They chose well for the hundredth-season opener, and I’m glad I finally made it out.  Just sorry I didn’t catch it earlier, but you can still make it!  HF runs until the 6th, and you really do want to go.  Because snubbing the Blisses?  How rude.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

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