The community theatre season kicked 2018 off brilliantly after the longggg winter hiatus with a spectacular *bang* that, at first, I was dreading due to the dismal Norm Foster overload as of late (even the version of Office Hours I saw last year managed to bum me out), but actually had me leaving the theatre truly entertained and uplifted. Thank you for that, Director – Mark Nathanielsz. I’m sure making a “feel good” Foster production was no easy task, especially this one. Some of the dialogue isn’t Foster’s best diction and is a tad…outdated if not perceived as an Archie Bunker type of theme. Melissa Peachey thoroughly enjoyed the show as well (although, because of the colourful imagery in Larry Westlake’s programme of various cocktails which reminded us of the placemat menus of “All you can eat Chinese buffets Rob Ford probably ate at” and possibly Swiss Chalet in the 90s and such, she was hoping for more of a “bash” in terms of the wine and cheese). I must commend the Scarborough Theatre Guild for encouraging responsible drinking (and not drinking and driving) by not letting the alcohol pour freely. Although I wouldn’t say no to an open bar in the future. In fact, I have my smart serve certificate gathering dust on my bookshelf and would be happy to lend my services at the concession table. Please contact us if you’d be interested (or any other theatre group that’s reading) as I’d love a volunteer opportunity!
As is common in most community theatre, after the first show, the cast mingles in the lobby amongst the theatre-goers. I always get a flutter of excitement when I whisper-squeal “oh look it’s so and so – she played so and so! Hey look it’s so and so, he always plays the best comedic roles”. Rarely do I point out somebody in the crowd and embarrassingly yell out loud “OH MY GOD IT’S RENEE”. That’s how I acted when I spotted Melinda Jordan – She embodied Renee, the bubbly yet socially awkward, first time escort with a diamond heart and the voice of an angel. Myself along with many sitting near me were taken aback by Melinda’s fabulous rendition of Happy Birthday; what an underused voice! We hope to see more of Jordan, hopefully starring in a Scarborough Music Theatre production in the not too distant future.
Scott Simpson and Tom Macdonald should be given Dora Awards for passing themselves off as father and son when – and I hope I don’t offend either actor, they looked to be roughly the same age. Scott Simpson as Joe, successful business owner, keeper of nice house and snappy dresser (in my opinion but sadly, not his father’s) played “late 30’s ish oddball introvert circa the mid 90’s” ten times more convincingly than the 9 other actors playing Foster written downtrodden male characters that I watched on Youtube this past weekend for comparison (I have less of a life than Joe and I had already watched all of Black Mirror Season 4 which was amazing btw). Simpson’s Joe kind of reminded me of Jon Arbuckle from Garfield. Macdonald’s Ivan on the other hand…kind of looked like a 35-year-old dude with early onset salt and pepper hair which is all the rage right now in the Tinder scene. The beard only added to his hipster cred and youthfulness. As soon as my sister and I walked into the Scarborough Village Theatre before the show, my eyes were drawn to the top right-hand side of the board where cast and crew member’s photos are posted. My very first thought was “He is striking!” and my second thought was “How old is this guy? Is this an Anderson Cooper/Steve Martin type scenario?” Had they dyed his hair black and shaved off the beard he could easily have played Joe’s younger brother. Tom Macdonald’s bio in the program states he’s back after a 30-year hiatus from the theatre. I blurted out to my sister “did he leave the theatre when he was 18?”. He was also too likeable and charismatic to convince me he was the deadbeat dad ($200 a month for two kids and their disabled caregiver/mother in the mid 80s?) without a shred of self-awareness he was written to be. Sometimes the vitriol spewing out of his mouth was so blasphemous it didn’t suit the twinkle in Macdonald’s eye!
Katie Pounder was really convincing as Carrie, the local news anchorwoman. I worked in local television for many years in a very rudimentary administrative/technical role and I’ve seen many on-air talents in my day stumbling around with too many drinks in them, one or two more in their hand(s) and a cigarette hanging out of their mouth. Everyone who works in television no matter how low level or high up their job is will have the same complaint. People on the outside are always commenting on how fabulous and exciting life at work must be. It really isn’t. Kudos to Maria Steventon the costume director on Carrie’s business/slightly futuristic trendy/professional look that was really popular in the mid to late 90’s and early 00’s as well.
Phyllis the second wife and full-time bearer of Ivan’s verbal abuse was played by Elaine Lindo who exuded a very calming and kind demeanour. At first, I thought I wouldn’t like her. I assumed I would dislike her attempts to interfere with the grown-children, but Lindo made Phyllis so likeable that I really ended up rooting for her. She seemed to earnestly care for the well-being of everyone involved and didn’t pass judgement on anyone, even after discovering many of their hidden secrets.
The only questions I have are: The lights kept flickering before the acts began. Was this on purpose Chris Northey or Alan Page? Please let us know in the comment section below! Also – I think the set was great. I desperately want emerald green, velvet furniture in my tiny Riverdale apartment. Please let me know what is happening to the furniture after the show. At first, I thought “Gee this sure isn’t 90’s furniture” as the play was set around 1995. Then once we find out Joe still lives in his parent’s home, the furniture is leftover from the 1970s and his father was the affluent owner of a successful dry cleaning business (which was abandoned and saved by Joe – not that he ever gets anything but criticism for it) the style of furniture makes sense. Alison Overington is all of this to your credit? I especially loved the scotch mints in the crystal holder that were most likely stuck together in a ball and had been sitting there for years. Also – the gorgeous framed photo of the ginger-haired vixen on the mantel – was that a photo of Beverly Crusher from Star Trek the Next Generation?
There are a couple of mild swear words in this play but I wouldn’t rate it anything higher than PG 13. So take the family – but with discretion! It’s definitely a very interesting and enthralling way to spend just under two hours and it is the best Norm Foster play I have seen yet.
Drinking Alone runs January 11-13, 18 -19 and January 14 and 20 at 2 pm at the Scarborough Village Theatre.
Visit Theatre Scarborough’s website for ticket information.