Review: The Myth of the Ostrich

The chemistry between the three actresses is wonderfully authentic, beginning with the wary friendliness between Holly and Pam on first meeting

Newly moved to Toronto, prim and proper Pam has discovered a letter from her son to one of his friends. Shocked by the letter’s contents, Pam goes over to the friend’s house to talk with Holly, the friend’s mother and a burnt-out self-help author, about said letter. Later, Holly’s no-nonsense Newfoundlander friend Sheryl shows up. Antics and hijinks ensue.

Normally, in the case of a show unattached to one of the established names of theatre – your Shakespeares, your Chekhovs, your Norm Fosters – reviewers go into a little more detail about the plot to try and entice prospective audiences. In the case of Matt Murray’s The Myth of the Ostrich, the second show in Dundas Little Theatre’s current season, it seems better to keep details limited. The above statement is everything you, the prospective audience, need to know going in about the show’s story and characters. Should these bare bones give you pause and indicate this may not be the kind of theatre you’d normally seek out and attend…well, you’re kind of the perfect audience for this one.
Murray’s script is remarkably well-structured, constantly shifting the expected dynamics of straight-woman/comic foil among the three women, while still maintaining a heartfelt core as they grow closer, with events paced out enough to create clear balance. In turn, director Mary Rose maintains that pace so that the majority of key moments have enough time to breathe, and no extended gag outstays its welcome; likewise, her assembled ensemble is more than game for the mercurial weaving of comic roles, attacking the material with gusto amid the scattered laundry, assorted used mugs, and unopened Amazon packages that decorate Rose’s lived-in set.

The chemistry between the three actresses is wonderfully authentic, beginning with the wary friendliness between Holly and Pam on first meeting, and only growing more comfortable and familiar as the story progresses. Kelly Kimpton feels the most grounded of the group, her Holly rooted firmly in a relatable place of everyday exhaustion. As Sheryl, Kimberly Jonasson is no-apologies confidence personified with precision comic timing. This is, however, undeniably Christine Marchetti’s show to steal – whether answering ANOTHER phone-call from her husband Dan (and a brief pause to praise Murray, Rose, and Marchetti for making this never-seen character a very palpable presence), relaying wild tales of her youth (at least from her perspective), or simply asking for a drink in reaction to something she just ate, her Pam is eminently watchable, commanding attention through near-perfect comic delivery, astonishingly decisive gestures, and a malleably expressive face. And that’s BEFORE certain events in the play lead to Pam becoming an absolute riot.
The show is, alas, not faultless. One pivotal revelation regarding the children near the play’s end isn’t allowed as much breathing room as other moments, the actors not properly digesting its gravity as it lands, coming across as a mere jump to the next line, its resolution ultimately rushed. There is also some confusion concerning a music cue’s use at the play’s beginning – is the song playing on Holly’s laptop while she works, or is it an opening song cue that carries over too long into the scene?
Nevertheless, these are nitpicks in the face of an otherwise delightful surprise. Myth of the Ostrich is exactly the kind of play its basic synopsis promises, yet it is also more than that – more fun, more heartwarming, more raucously hilarious. It’s the kind of theatre you might not normally seek out, but which you’ll be more than happy that you did.

Community Theatre, ****1/2/*****

The Myth of the Ostrich
Written by: Matt Murray
Directed by Mary Rose
Playing at: Dundas Little Theatre (37 Market Street South, Dundas)
Showdates: January 27, 28, February 2, 3, 4 @ 8pm; January 29, February 5 @ 2pm
Tickets: $25 General Admission; $20 Students and Seniors(65+)
Box Office: 905-627-5266

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