It’s always a treat coming out to Bloor West Village to see a play at the subterranean Village Playhouse. This West-end neighbourhood emanates small town charm and cosiness especially in the Autumn months when High Park is brimming with crisp, brilliant, burnt umber foliage, coffee shop patios still optimistically open, bistro sets adorned with sweater-wearing first date goers, whose dogs are tied to the patio’s wrought iron black fences. The platonic girlfriend I brought with me to see Theft, 2017 season opener for The Village Players, quietly whispered to me during Act One how charming it was to hear the rattle of the trains passing by underneath the theatre every 3-5 minutes back and forth between Runnymede and High Park subway stations.

In regards to Theft, author Eric Chappell is an English sitcom writer whose creation Rising Damp won a BAFTA award for Best Situation Comedy in 1978. That same year, he wrote Theft which is one of his least known works so it was a rather risky choice for the Village Players’ season opener.

I came to this play verrrrrry excited because over the past year I have become quite the Clive Lacey (Tartuffe, Deathtrap) fan and when I saw his name on the poster for this show, I naturally assumed he would be the star! Predictably in the first scene, when his character, John enters the living room to find it was HIS home that had been robbed, I thought to myself “Yes!”, but then Ian McGarrett suddenly emerged from the far window seat and my heart sunk. “This is not a Clive Lacey show after all” I quickly realized, but Eckhart Tolle says we must “surrender to what is“… and McGarrett certainly looked like an interesting character, so I kept my mind and my heart open. This was a good decision because it turns out that Ian is a phenomenal character actor hailing from Peterborough, Ontario, who deserves to return home to a row of ACT-CO Thea awards lined up on his mantle every night.

Normally I get distracted easily. Even House of Cards put me to sleep this season and I stopped watching after episode 4 out of sheer boredom. Nothing fictional lately on television is anywhere near as exciting as MSNBC has been since Vladimir Putin was elected president of that unfortunate country to the South of us. This is why I enjoy live theatre! I need to be in the front row and have the action seem real and compelling in order to keep my attention focused. I need to feel like I am eavesdropping on the entire scenario with a cup against the wall and a pair of binoculars; Like the events unfolding before me are secretly being streamed via webcam on Youtube without the characters’ knowledge;  Like on Big Brother (CBS) when house-guests forget they’re being filmed. Luckily, despite the unfair and unbalanced amount of dialogue allocated to poor McGarrett (a mistake I am positive Eric Chappell is keenly aware of as it has been mentioned in other reviews of past productions of Theft) he, as shit disturbing burglar Spriggs, kept my eyes glued to the stage and my attention sharply focused on the confusing sequence of events that was unfolding before my very eyes. Most actors would have forgotten their lines at some point or appeared pale-faced and marble-mouthed as they desperately tried to deliver monologue after monologue while single-handedly trying to carry along the entire production. McGarrett, although definitely taxed at times, managed to seem natural and unrehearsed throughout the entire show.

I’ve got to admit something. Although everything about The Village Players experience is wonderful, from the ladies who serve coffee at intermission to the high quality (now I sound like Donald Trump), professional acting, to the detailed set design… their choice of plays lately has left a bit to be desired (To be fair – I am NOT a Norm Foster fan in general so this is happening in my opinion all across Toronto where it seems we can’t even go one or two months without there being a Norm Foster production happening somewhere!). This isn’t The Village Players’ fault and only highlights how excellent this theatre group is to be able to bring these dull scripts to life….. which is why I couldn’t be more EXCITED to return to Bloor West Village this November to check out Evelyn Strange – what looks to be an amazingly fun and exciting film noir style thriller!!!! If anyone can make this next one exciting as hell it’s The Village Players! I can’t wait!

 

 

Buy tickets to Theft: https://villageplayers.net/tickets/

PRICES:

Adult $24.00
Senior Over 65 years: $20.00 (Wed/Thurs/Sun only)
Under 30 years: $20.00 (ID required)
Group of 10 or more: $20.00 (must be paid in advance; buy 15 tickets, get the 16th free)

Remaining shows: 

Friday, September 22, 2017, at 8:00 pm
Saturday, September 23, 2017, at 8:00 pm
Sunday, September 24, 2017, at 2:00 pm

Thursday, September 28, 2017, at 8:00 pm (Talk-Back Night)
Friday, September 29, 2017, at 8:00 pm
Saturday, September 30, 2017, at 8:00 pm (Closing Night)