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An 18+ Monday night

Last night I saw two burlesque shows and went to the Late Night Cabaret.  I guess there are some themes there.

O Manada had five dancers (all male) performing as various Canadian archetypes, in solos and larger ensemble pieces, and the hosts were a 1975-era Pierre and Maggie Trudeau.  I have misplaced my program, so I can’t tell you who the rest of this Toronto-based troupe are, but Maggie Trudeau was Morgan Norwich.  The show was fast-paced and full of topical humour leading up to a hilarious speculation that followed naturally from the premise of the show.  The performers engaged some audience members (thank you!) and were a lot of fun to watch.

Burlesque-Prov is hosted by local improviser Lee Boyes.  He introduced the two regulars of the show, Kiki Quinn (who is also in Second Breakfast Club) and LeTabby Lexington (who is also in Die-Nasty this Fringe), along with tonight’s guest performers, one called Fiona who was from out of town, and one from Man Up (his name in that show is Tres Debonair but I think he was introduced last night as Givenchy or something like that).  Kristen Welker was stage kitten in a catsuit complete with claws.  Each performer did a solo act to music selected by the audience, with some kind of theme or limitation also provided randomly.  They also had a box of props to use as they chose. I don’t have the background to know how hard this is, but it was also fun to watch.  The show ended with all performers on stage alternating short bits with high energy.

Late Night Cabaret, hosted by Amy Shostak and Julian Faid, included some sketch comedy from Hip Bang, a story from Martin Dockery, a glimpse of Release the McCrackin, another burlesque performer (C.R. Avery, who is in Some Birds Walk for the Hell of It), and some risque country songs from Shirley Gnome.

What with visiting friends in the beer tent in between shows, I almost didn’t put my ID away all evening.  And that’s not a complaint.

Fringe Sunday

Mild weather made it comfortable everywhere on site yesterday, from C103 to the beer tents.  I saw four shows for the first time, as well as working backstage at Death Comes to Auntie Norma and seeing Pinniped and Other Poems a second time.  Death Comes to Auntie Norma plays this afternoon (Monday) at 4 pm, Wednesday at 12:15, Thursday at 2:15, and closing Sunday at 8:00 pm.  The Edmonton Journal gave us 4 stars and the compliment of comparisons with classic 1980s sitcoms like Roseanne and Golden Girls.

I appreciated more of the subtle description and lyricism in Pinniped more the second time through.  Skye Hindman’s writing is epigrammatic, the erstwhile love interest (Alex Dawkins) is wry and controlled, and the three actors playing the ineffectual protagonist (Emily Howard, Connor Suart, Jake Tkaczyk) have intriguingly similar mannerisms.  Suart seems to be portraying JR Morse in the past, Tkaczyk in the present, and Howard … I’m not sure if her persona is a future one, a dream one, or simply another aspect of Morse’s self.

My favourite show so far this Fringe is Kiss Around Pass Around, a delightful solo physical theatre piece by Yanomi.  Unlike in some of the wonderful physical theatre pieces I’ve seen in the past, like Loon and 7 Ways to Die, the character in this show does speak, engaging with the audience in simple accented English to enhance the impression of being juvenile and alien “Are you human?  Are you kind?”  Music and props add to the magic of the character’s journey to find her father.

Deadmonton was written by Andy Garland and directed by David Johnston, and it is very different from the last work I’d seen from this team, the tongue-in-cheek film-noir pastiche And Then, The Lights Went Out. Deadmonton is a serious portrait of what might happen when two serial killers encounter each other, as well as a look at credible backgrounds for people who are compelled to kill.  Carmen Nieuwenhuis and Alex Forsyth are both disturbingly convincing, and the props and effects are simple enough not to pull me out of the story.  There was one supremely disturbing moment when I was excruciatingly aware of a weapon being close to hand for Gil, Forsyth’s character, willing desperately for him not to use it in that particular situation, despite the spoken text not even mentioning that possibility – which is when I realized that the story had sucked me in completely to their horrifyingly twisted reality.

Who Am I:  Unauthorized stories from the Varscona Parkade was a typical Toy Guns Dance Theatre show, unpredictable, playful, funny, and full of unlikely props.  The unusual venue – the top floor of the parking garage beside the Varscona Hotel – meant that they did less floor work than usual and there were fewer classical-dance elements, but they made very creative use of several couches.

No Belles is a storytelling show from Portland Oregon in which performers use a variety of speaking styles to tell the stories of eight women scientists, women who won Nobel prizes and women who didn’t.  The narrative style and content were something between a very good lecture (like a TED talk) and a typical Fringe storytelling, but I was riveted the whole time, and brought to tears twice.

A busy theatre weekend at the end of May.

It’s a week of wrapping up seasons, celebrating, and honouring excellence.  It’s also rehearsals or tech week for everyone who’s in Nextfest, and rehearsal for the Fringe.

And in the middle of all that, Fringe Theatre Adventures hosted another excellent workshop in their Professional Development Series yesterday.  Charles Netto and Mark Hopkins of Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre in Calgary conducted an all-day series of experiences and conversations about found space and site-sympathetic theatre.  This is the second of the Professional Development series I’d participated in.  If the series continues next year, I recommend them strongly.

The nominees for the 2014-2015 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes awards for professional theatre in Edmonton were announced this afternoon in a smooth and speedy ceremony at the Next Act.  Mat Hulshof introduced the special award winners and Louise Lambert and Ben Stevens read the nominees.  I was able to reminisce about many wonderful shows I’d seen, and marvel about how many more good performances I must have missed, especially at the Fringe.

The Foote Theatre School’s Young Companies closed their instructional year with performances this weekend too.  I missed seeing the Young Musical Company in Chris Wynters and Jocelyn Ahlf’s new musical Measures, but I enjoyed the Young Acting Company’s performance of Robert Chafe’s Afterimage, an ensemble piece that starts out as narrative spoken to the audience by various company members, who seem to be inhabitants of a small east coast community.  This impression of a narrative chorus is continued by having all members of the company sit on chairs at the sides of the stage when not engaged in scenes.  Gradually, I discovered who was who in the story they were telling.  Kieran Dunch was Winston, a man badly burned while trying to repair a downed electrical line, Monica Lillo was the nurse Maggie, and Jasmine Zyp was Lise, who worked in the hospital laundry but seemed to be drawn to the injured man by foresight or some other unusual power.  I appreciated the way the story gradually fitted together, with Leonard (Daniel Greenways) and Connie (Kathryn Robinson) crossing paths with Lise at important points in their lives.  Aidan Burke, Clayton Plamondon, and Jade Robinson played child characters credibly without parody.  Katelyn Trieu was credited as The Storyteller, continuing the role of chorus throughout the play.  I was particularly struck by the plight of Clayton Plamondon’s character, the misfit among misfits, (like Wednesday Addams, but serious).  Brian Dooley directed.

Tonight was the first of three nights of staged readings for the Young Playwrights’ Company.  I watched Winky & Rex by Joshua Wiśniewski and Prodigy by Hayley Moorhouse.  Reading was done by local performers, Candace Berlinguette, Jason Chinn, Joel Crichton, Eva Foote, Merran Carr-Wiggin, Bobbi Goddard, and Lee Boyes.  In both scripts the dialogue flowed smoothly and provided enough scope for the readers to develop memorable characters.   I particularly appreciated the way the writing made each character sound different.  There were also some repeated catchphrases which amused the audience, “as previously stated” in Winky & Rex, and “Obviously!” in Prodigy.

Winky & Rex was a snapshot of life for three uniquely awkward young adults, two roommates and their longtime friend.  It was set shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  That mattered because one character had grown up in East Germany and his father could finally travel to visit him.  I had some confusion early on about the relationship between the roommates and about what country they were living in (I thought they were in the former West Germany but later it seemed to be the USA).

The main characters in Prodigy were three Grade Eight students, angry and disappointed about the cancellation of their band program, and taking out their frustrations on their teacher (Lee Boyes).   The young people had age-appropriate lapses in judgement on big issues (the likely consequences of assassinating school officials for example) but were careful to correct each other on word usage that might hurt people’s feelings, which was charming and credible.

There are more staged readings of new work Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at 7:30 in the Club at the Citadel, pay-what-you-can admission.

From Cradle to Stage 2015

From Cradle to Stage is a Walterdale Theatre spring tradition.  Playwrights submit new scripts. in the fall. One or two are chosen, and the playwrights work with a dramaturg over the winter before auditions and a production in May.  This year’s dramaturg was Mieko Ouchi.

This year you can watch two plays in the From Cradle To Stage evening:  a staged reading of Magpies by Mary-Ellen Perley (directed by Maia Pearson), and a full production of Jesus Master Builder by Mark Allan Greene (directed by Trish Van Doornum).

The first made me teary eyed and the second made me giggle uncontrollably when I wasn’t groaning at the puns.

Magpies is a three-hander, a set of conversations among a grandfather (Michael Schaar-Ney), grand-daughter (Shanni Pinkerton), and the mother/daughter of the in-between generation (Stephanie Swensrude).  It’s set locally in neighbourhoods I could picture easily from the few stage directions.   It worked very well as a staged reading because the important parts were the relationships, the interactions, and the conversations about the past, rather than the incidents taking place on- or off-stage during the time frame of the play.  Although in a fully-staged production it would be fun to see the grandfather trying to shoot magpies with a Super Soaker.  It touched on familiar themes – the allying of the older and younger generation against the uptight middle, the results of secrets kept, and the aftermath of death in the family and grief.

The second play, Jesus Master Builder – A Divine Comedy was a pun-filled exploration of the premise that although Jesus was canonically working with Joseph as a carpenter, he wasn’t necessarily any good at it.  The script referred to a very large number of the familiar New Testament stories and King James Version/Vulgate quotations, sometimes in appropriate context and sometimes almost randomly.  While we see Jesus (Michael Gordon) talking to God (the credibly awe-inspiring voice of Alex Hawkins), calling his disciples (Andrea Newman, Curtis Johnson, Michael Laplaunte, etc), and conducting his ministry, interspersed scenes tell the story of Jebediah (Brad Bishop) and his unnamed wife (Jenn Havens), on their own mission to have Jesus fix their badly-built house.  On that quest they collect their own followers, a Condo Association board of misfits (Sean Richard MacKinnon, Curtis Johnson, Monica Maddaford).  Havens and Bishop are especially funny.   Jenn Havens’ character uses a lot of Yiddish words and intonations but nobody else does, and this is eventually addressed in the text.  Jesus and his followers sometimes speak in a KJV-like dialect (thee, thou, -eth), modern youth slang which irritates his mother (Monica Maddaford).  Kirk Starkie is an emotionally-overwrought Joseph, a step-parent complaining about the “fun weekend dad”, and Michael Schaar-Ney is Michael Hutz, a reno-salvage contractor like a version of Mike Holmes in tunic, tzitzit, and steel-toed sandals.

I thought it ran a little long.  In the second half it slowed down a bit from a strong funny start.  You will find the writing particularly amusing if you have experience with New Testament stories, condominium politics and repair orders, and/or father-figure rivalries, but enough is going on that it’s okay if you miss some of the allusions.  I also liked the costumes (Geri Dittrich) a lot.

The double bill opens tonight (Monday May 18th) and continues until Saturday, May 23rd.  Advance tickets are available at Tix on the Square, with tickets available for purchase at the theatre starting at 7 pm each night.

Script submissions for the 2016 From Cradle to Stage project are due at the theatre September 15th.

tribes at the Timms

Nina Raine’s drama Tribes is the last show in the U of Alberta Studio Theatre season.  It was directed by Amanda Bergen as part of her MFA Directing studies, and design was by MFA Design student Robyn Ayles.

The play explores some of the difficulties and felicities occurring with overlaps between Deaf culture, hearing culture, and the idiosyncratic culture that’s built up within a family.  In the first scene, the family is gathered around a dining table, probably at breakfast time.  The parents, played by Ashley Wright and Judy Ferran, have three young-adult children living at home (Zoe Glassman, Mathew Hulshof, and Connor Yuzwenko-Martin). Conversations are chaotic, loud, acrimonious, repetitive, and obscene.  After a while my attention was drawn to the one person on stage who wasn’t engaged in argument but mostly sitting upstage eating his cereal, Connor Yuzwenko-Martin’s Billy.  Nobody else in the family seems to expect him to be part of the conversations.  A few side comments and responses indicate that he is deaf, and mostly ignored even when he tries to participate.  Other family members all seem self-absorbed, troubled, and wrapped up in their own creative projects.

Billy’s life begins to change when he meets Sylvia (Bobbi Goddard), a young woman who was raised hearing in Deaf culture but is now going deaf herself.  The two of them do not communicate easily either because Billy speaks with difficulty and does not sign and Sylvia doesn’t lip-read well.   However, they are drawn to each other.  Sylvia motivates Billy to learn ASL, suggests a job which would reward his skilled lip-reading, and challenges his family’s hostility towards Deaf community while opening up about the problems she sees there.  In one of the most telling exchanges, the father Christopher asks her condescendingly what Deaf culture is like, and when she replies “hierarchical” it’s clear that he has no idea how to respond to a perceptive and critical answer.

I did not feel as if the play told me anything I didn’t already know about the issues around contemporary Deaf, deafened, and hearing-world interactions or about ASL linguistics, but it illustrated them in a compassionate thought-provoking way.  But it was not just the story of Billy encountering a world where he could communicate easily and Sylvia having to cope with losing her hearing.  The issues around Billy’s job interpreting video-recordings for court testimony, standards of proof and ability to fill in stories by assumptions, were fascinating.   Various balances in family expectations and culture are upset when the former “mascot” of the family develops outside life and confronts his parents and siblings.  None of them ever listens to each other.  They always counted Billy as the sympathetic listener, but it didn’t seem to matter whether he could understand them.  Another level of irony is that the father is shown studying conversational Chinese language, but has never tried to learn sign.  The story ends with a small sentimental gesture of outreach, but problems are mostly left unsolved in a credible way.

I am hearing and I do not sign.  I had a good enough understanding of what was taking place on the stage with the help of surtitling for some of the Sign conversations and some of Billy’s speech, as well as his postures and facial expressions and the responses of the other characters.  I was uncomfortable and embarrassed about not understanding more of what he was saying with his voice, but I felt like that was appropriate.  It also reminded me of the first time I saw Mat Hulshof on stage, when he was playing a disabled teenager with speech difficulties in Kill Me Now.  The inclusion of Bobbi Goddard’s character Sylvia, someone who could speak clearly and also discuss nuances of Deaf and deafened life, enriched the story and also made it logistically easier for a hearing person to be engaged.  I found Goddard’s performance particularly moving, alluding to the flaws in the community she’d been raised in but still feeling protective of them, and especially in the scene where she struggles with losing the last bits of hearing her own voice.  At first I thought her character might be a device like William Hurt’s in Children of a Lesser god or Donald Wood’s character in the Steven Biko biopic Cry Freedom, a dominant-culture ally who is easier to identify with than the uncomfortable-making minority character, but I changed my mind, as I came to see that her conflicts were as significant a part of the story as Billy’s.

The performance I saw was interpreted by four ASL interpreters, who moved smoothly to the sides of the stage as needed, each interpreting for one of the characters in the conversation.  Although I did not understand what they were saying, I could easily tell who was speaking for which character because of their gestures and attitudes.

Tribes continues at the Timms Centre until Saturday May 23rd, with tickets at Tix on the Square.  The Saturday closing performance will have live ASL interpretation, as did an earlier one.

Starting the year off with a SHOUT!

Over the winter-solstice theatre dark nights I had intended to post my notes on everything I saw in December, but it didn’t seem to work that way.  I’ll work through the backlog as I can, even though the busier schedules of January and February mean that programs are piling up again.

SHOUT! is a 1960s musical revue produced by Round Barns Productions, which played at C103 in early January.  Kristen Finlay directed it, and Sally Hunt was the musical director.  During the show, five young women in England (Leslie Caffaro, Nicole English, Kristen Finlay, Erin Foster-O’Riordan, Monica Roberts) move through the years from 1962 to 1970, with songs, dancing, and glimpses of their lives in that era.  They’re called “The Red Girl”, “The Orange Girl”, “The Yellow Girl” and so on, after one of those magazine-article personality quizzes (voiceover by John Dolphin), and the quick lists of traits are turned into five distinct and attractive characters by the performers.

A magazine called Shout provided a framework moving through the show, with the characters reading articles about 1960s phenomena like Twiggy, the Beatles, and the sexual revolution.  John Dolphin’s voiceovers provided assorted magazine content, and the characters also wrote letters to “Gwendolyn Holmes” a women’s-magazine advice columnist of the era (voice by Elizabeth Marsh) who responded to most problems with suggestions like cheering oneself up by getting a new hairstyle.  Much of the advice and other magazine content was terrible from a 2015 point of view (the cigarettes diet, the asbestos dress).

The music was great, mostly songs I was familiar with.  I loved the “Coldfinger” parody of the James Bond theme, “I Only Want to Be With You”, and “Shout!”, and the “You’re My World/All I See is You” medley made me cry.  And there was enough character development arc under the mostly-lighthearted show to provide satisfying outcomes for the characters “I got pregnant!”, “I got sober”, and “I got Penelope!”  Especially the one who takes over for the advice columnist.

Zombies and the Bard

Red Deer College’s William Shakespeare in the Land of the Dead, which played in October of last year, was a performance that didn’t fit tidily into a genre.  The title gave a hint of what to expect though – a juxtaposition of Shakespeare and zombies.

The play was written in 2008 or so by John Heimbuch, and directed by Kelly Reay of Calgary.   The cast of fourteen are all students in the graduating year of the Theatre Performance and Creation program, last seen as an ensemble in Ten Lost Years last spring.

The set, constructed in the black-box space of Studio A, created the sense of being in the greenroom or other backstage space at the Globe Theatre shortly after it had been built, with warm yellow lighting and a light mist or haze, rough wooden benches and table, and large exposed beams suspended overhead.  The scene opens with Kate (Pharaoh Amnesty), the ” ‘tiring girl” for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men theatre company, starting to clear up the room while a performance is going on.  Shakespeare (Evan Macleod) and Burbage (Richie Jackson), friends and collaborators, then enter and discuss past and future productions, the politics of the day, the troubles of dealing with actors and patrons, and so on.  Will Kemp (Nate Rehman), the clown of the company who had been known for playing Falstaff, bounces in, pesters Shakespeare to write Falstaff into more scenes, and taunts him that audiences would rather see his jigging and foolishness than a story with a plot.  The parts that I knew about seemed consistent with canon, and this part introduced some of the main characters, but I felt like it dragged a little and was sometimes hard to hear or to follow.

The rest of the company tumbles backstage at the end of their performance, stripping off tabards for Kate and the company apprentice Rice (Robyn Jeffrey) to collect and fold, and calling for everyone to join them at a tavern.  But while Kemp and Shakespeare stay at the theatre, the tavern excursion encounters some zombies and comes back infected.  Other characters attempt to shelter in the theatre, unaware of the contamination, most notably Queen Elizabeth I (Emily Cupples) with a small retinue.  Cupples, in large starched ruff, was splendidly regal.

The production is a wonderful showcase of zombie makeup, because those bitten early in the show show more decay with their every entrance, while those who manage to survive until near the end appear nearly undamaged.  As I don’t have my program for this production at my fingertips I can’t tell you who to credit for this design and application.

Dark humour and a celebration of love: Jeffrey

Earlier this week I was fortunate to being able to attend a preview show for Walterdale Theatre Associates’ new production of Jeffrey, the 1992 comedy by Paul Rudnick about a young single gay man in New York City, frustrated by the precautions and disclosures and negotiations around sex in the era of AIDS.  It was directed by Kyle Thulien and Sarah Van Tassel.   Jeffrey (Sean Richard MacKinnon) decides that he’s just going to stop having sex.  This works out about as well as you might expect, starting with him going to the gym for distraction and encountering handsome Steve (Logan Boon).   Thus follows a whirlwind of glimpses of Jeffrey’s life as a catering waiter and aspiring actor, with his close friends Sterling (Gerald Mason), an interior designer and his younger boyfriend Darius (Simon Müller), a chorus performer in the musical Cats!  Jeffrey works at fundraisers and funerals, takes his laundry to the cleaner on Pride Parade day, sits with Sterling in the hospital where Darius is dying, and explores a church, a kind of sex club, and a game-show panel in some of the less narrative-reality-based scenes.   The rest of the ensemble (Trevor Talbott, Mark Kelly, Catherine Wenschlag, and Morgan D. D. Refschauge) play various characters in all these settings.  I particularly enjoyed the scene in which Jeffrey imagines his conservative kind Wisconsinite parents (Wenschlag and Talbott) giving him homey but disturbingly explicit advice about sex, and Wenschlag as an overbearingly-enthusiastic mother on Pride day, reminiscent of Sharon Gless’s character Debbie on Queer As Folk (the Toronto/Pittsburgh version).

We learn that Steve is HIV-positive and we watch Sterling and Jeffrey cope with Darius’s illness and death, and Jeffrey’s reaction goes from seeming funny and overly squeamish to grippingly understandable.  Jeffrey’s determination to avoid the complications of sex looks very much like anyone’s determination to avoid the risk of heartbreak by not falling in love – and by the end we are all cheering for him and Steve to get together.

This story is set several years after the events portrayed in The Normal Heart and in Angels in America Part I.  It was set in the same city and about the same year as the most recent Walterdale show, Six Degrees of Separation, which gives perspective to the society matron’s question in that show “Are you infected? do you have AIDS?” as quite a reasonable worry.  The dark humour of this script around finding new cultural norms for sexual behaviour must have been very powerful when it was first produced, with audiences who remembered the time before safer sex and were themselves learning how their lives would change.    As I was volunteering at a student preview show, I was privileged to attend a cast/crew talkback session, in which participants in the show provided some of their perspectives and some context to the young audience.  I think it is still funny for modern audiences, and its message celebrating the joy in committed love is universal.

Jeffrey is playing at the Walterdale Theatre until Saturday February 14th (another option for your Valentines’ Day date!) with tickets at Tix on the Square.


Birdie on the Wrong Bus!

The other night I went to a performance of Promise Productions’ Birdie on the Wrong Bus, a delightful and satisfying story written by Ellen Chorley and directed by Andrew Ritchie.  I wish I’d been able to share the show with my 9 year old nephew, because I think he would have loved it and learned a lot that would have enhanced a visit to Edmonton.  Maybe I can lobby for a remount when my nephew is visiting?

I also liked it a lot myself.  For me there is something deeply satisfying about seeing or reading a story for young people that has elements I didn’t get enough of as a kid.  A young female protagonist who is bright, stubborn, and not overly cute.  An adventurous kid who isn’t punished by the plotline.   An odd kid who isn’t shown as being bullied.  Celebration of women in sports (I just about squeed myself out of my seat and elbowed the stranger beside me in delight when the Edmonton Grads came into the story.) Siblings who are impatient with each other but not mean.  Local mentions, places I know.  And an overall message of the rewards of discovering the city for yourself and acquiring a personal story of “Why I love Edmonton”.

The premise of the story cleverly set up the situation of a kid stuck on a wrong bus, with an explanation that fearful kids and worried parents alike could buy into without worrying that a similar thing could happen by accident.  Being on the wrong bus alone is intimidating, scary, and/or embarrassing for anyone, but that shouldn’t deter people from supporting kids to ride public transit.  Birdie, the earnest and anxious protagonist, was played convincingly by Mari Chartier.  She first jumps onto the wrong bus to defy her older sister, as the usual routine has the Grade 4 and Grade 6 siblings expected to travel home together on nights a parent can’t meet them, and the bus departs before she can get off again.

Other roles – teacher, sister, bus drivers and passengers – were all covered by Lana Michelle Hughes and Ben Stevens, with some impressively quick backstage costume changes.  Within the environment of a moving bus, Birdie encounters several people she first misjudges and then learns from – a Goth teen with big headphones is not actually a scary vampire, a homeless person collecting drink containers for the deposit money is interesting and friendly, everyone is passionate about some locations in the city because of personal meaning and memories.

Since I was young I have also loved realism in stage set elements, too.  The simple portrayal of seats on a bus, with a hint of the proper window shape and the signal cord, gets increased authenticity with a real ETS bus-stop sign, advertising placards, and farebox.

Happy Toes

Teatro la Quindicina is presenting a remount of Stewart Lemoine’s Happy Toes at the Varscona Theatre until October 18th (next Saturday).  This is the last play in their season, and their last before the Varscona renovations start.  With a cast of Julien Arnold, Jeff Haslam, Ron Pederson, Cathy Derkach, and Davina Stewart, I knew it would be funny and clever.  And it was.  What I didn’t expect was that it would be quiet, gentle, and thoughtful.  Jeff Haslam was particularly subtle as Tony, independently-wealthy single friend to Julien Arnold’s Alex.  All of the characters were people who didn’t rush into big changes and who didn’t talk about feelings easily.  Tony, Alex, and Edgar (Pederson) were longtime friends in the habit of meeting for coffee.  Edgar, a music teacher, and Tony are concerned when Alex shares some trouble in his marriage, but they are unsure how to support him.  Davina Stewart plays Alex’s restless wife Janine, and Cathy Derkach a new acquaintance who meets the group through Edgar, a customer at the bank where she works.

There is a predictable miscommunication confusion about the estranged spouses showing up at the same event and misinterpreting, but it’s played in the same understated style that the characters have developed.  And there is an ending which turns out happy but not trite.  Tix on the Square has the tickets as usual.