No community theatre experience in the GHA can beat a Binkbrook community theatre experience, let me tell you, and I’ve experienced a lot of it. Ok, it’s not always dead–on successful, nothing is, but when BLT gets it right, it gets it right. They love a comedy out there in the country, and they love a Norm Foster comedy, and his Love List is made to order for them. Let me get into your heads here and first bravely opine that this play uncovers the classicist in Mr. Foster. He owes some debt to the theatre where elements of good and evil merge with fantasy and humans play close to the edge of darkness and the occult. I hope that adds a tincture of excitement to your showtime taste buds. Relax, nothing ugly happens, be assured, but The Love List is more than just a clever exercise in adult mating shenanigans meeting that old black magic. See if you don’t enjoy this production even more as you suspect how close the three protagonists get to risking the unknown. Foster’s genius with the quick and the quip, his mastery of the economy of writing and plotting are very much in charge and he leads us to the safe side, all hands happy. Director Shirley Marshall keeps things moving along with few hitches, and producer Rick Kuipers and Olla Smillie provide her with a pretty solid staff and crew. Managing things efficiently offstage are Troy Smillie and Lisa Cook. (A quibble: “Ninjas”, those indispensables who change things during intervals may be seen by us but should never ‘see’ us.) Adam Harrison’s set works well, a watchable arrangement of lines and vivid colour, although a main entrance upstage centre gives Marshall some blocking challenges mostly well–handled, but the occasional talking–to– the–wall dialogue on entering could use some outside–the–box invention. Bob Blowey’s lighting is excellent and Peter Jonasson delivered Paul Purser’s sound design with ease (I’m sure I heard the audience singing along with some of those bridges and intro choices).
Marshall’s casting of her three actors is alone enough reason for this reviewer to get to BLT. Seeing them in this very credible production affirms and validates both her choices and the sturdy reputation of this Foster play. Les Blackmore and Dean Rooney play two urban professionals on the unsteady edge of middle–age. Blackmore is Bill, a well–regarded but lonely statistician in whose warren of a messy apartment the action takes place. He’s just entered his 50s and his best and seemingly only friend Leon is a modestly successful and published writer played by Rooney. Blackmore takes on a character like an architect with a blueprint and misses nary a cornice of comedic style nor a detail of delivery. He plays the socially hapless and helpless loser with heart–breaking sincerity, and so funny! Rooney understands the role of the foil here and he turns a supporting actor role into a work of art. His Leon has a writer’s ironic wit and with just the right exasperation of the true friend trying to help out. Rooney’s stage smarts are perfect for this buddy role. Foster’s lines have a master at the controls. What a fine team they make!
Kimberly Jonasson has found the role of a lifetime for a comedic actor and she takes hold if it with uber–confidence as though born for it. She plays Justine, a gem from Norm Foster in his collection of already priceless stage women creations. Justine arrives seemingly the solution to Leon’s list of necessities in a romantic partner for Bill, the “love list” he’s got from an unlikely matchmaker. To meet the ten requirements the list demands performance challenges and acting resources to test Jonasson’s mettle. and abilities. She meets all the demands and then some. Acting is body as well as mind, dear readers, and they meet in her portrayal like a bra to bosom. She dazzles, she confounds, she splits your sides with funny. I’ve seldom heard so genuine an exit ovation as she got after one amazing sequence that began as a ripple, grew to a wave and finished in a tsunami washing her hilariously off stage left leaving us behind ecstatic with delight. Bravissima!
Opening night was a sell–out. Call BLT soon (like now). Sell–outs are a good bet for this show. V
THE LOVE LIST
Oct. 25–27, Nov. 1–2.
@ Binbrook Little Theatre,
2–2600 Hwy 56, Binbrook