Getting off to a slow start this Monday, TOO slow. The mean reds got me down once again, and they’re way past beginning to cramp my style, they’ve all but eliminated any style I once laid claim to. But blogging waits for no man, nor any manic depression, and I have my fifth show of the week to write up yet! Made it out to this one on the day off yesterday, out at the Elmwood School Theatre where the buses don’t run (because that’s how the extraordinarily wealthy residents like it, thank you very much). It was that time of year again, when the Linden House Theatre Company puts on their annual show, and it would mark my second time catching the action. Had a great time at last year’s production of THE CIRCLE, and so had high hopes for their latest effort, George Bernard Shaw’s YOU NEVER CAN TELL. And not just because Visitorium fav’rit Jenny David was in it, after way too long an absence from Ottawa stages. Shaw is, after all, one of the most celebrated writers in the English language, and this is a play he pretty much wrote on a dare. Who could resist?
After the usual Elmwood hospitality (free food and drinks both times now! I frickin’ love this place!), the show got underway courtesy of musical accompaniment from pianist Jennifer Ross). Shaw’s version of the English seaside comedy follows a down on his luck dentist called Valentine (Danny McLeod) who gets sucked into the whirlwind that is the Clandon family by nosey parker Dolly (Jenny David) and her twin brother and self-appointed expert on human nature Phillip (Adrian Manicom). They introduce Valentine to their progressive Mom (company founder Janet Uren, impressive as ever on stage) and older sister Gloria (Susan Nugent), who our hapless dentist instantly falls for. There’s some disarray in the family, as the children are pestering their proud Mother for information on their real Father, whom they have never known…and who, of course, turns out out be in the very same resort. Lawyers are called in (Corey Reay as Finch, AND Dan Demarbre as Walter), tempers flare, feelings are hurt, and sometimes it seems as if gentleman butler William (an absolutely terrific Tom Charlebois) is the only sane one in thee bunch. Which, truth be told, is likely accurate.
YNCT is a lovely and fun comedy, always kept light and with a troupe more than capable of tackling Shaw’s mightily verbose script. McLeod and Nugent were both great in this June’s DANGEROUS LIAISONS at OLT, and their scenes together are pretty damn delightful as they spar and parry their way to romance. Bill Horsman’s gruff and bombastic landlord Crampton is hilariously ill-mannered, and he makes a worthy ‘villain’ of the piece. And yes, Jenny David is perfectly wonderful as dotty Dolly with her endless and inappropriate questions, and she and partner-in-crime Manicom make some merry mischief on stage (and wear some smashing outfits while doing it…thanks to Janet Uren and Jane Sadler on costumes). A few of director George Stonyk’s transitions could use a little speeding up, and one or two times the odd actor didn’t project as well as needed, but for the most part things flow pretty smoothly. It’s a terrific fun, seriously witty romp with some pretty canny insight into the way people act snuck in there. Every Mother should probably force their daughters to read Valentine’s monologue on Artillery and modern wooing, just to be prepared. Because after all…you never can tell. Peace, love and soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)