London Free Press
A review
Hilda’s Yard, a comedy by Norm Foster, presented by Drayton Entertainment
From left, Brad Austin as Beverly Woytowich, Alan Kliffer as Gary Fluck, Brian Linds as his father, Sam Fluck, Steffi DiDomenicantonio as Bobbi, Ella Simon as Janey Fluck and Patti Allan as Hilda Fluck star in Hilda’s Yard at Huron Country Playhouse II until July 29.  (John Sharp/Special to Postmedia News)
From left, Brad Austin as Beverly Woytowich, Alan Kliffer as Gary Fluck, Brian Linds as his father, Sam Fluck, Steffi DiDomenicantonio as Bobbi, Ella Simon as Janey Fluck and Patti Allan as Hilda Fluck star in Hilda’s Yard at Huron Country Playhouse II until July 29. (John Sharp/Special to Postmedia News)
 

By Joe Belanger, The London Free Press

Friday, July 15, 2016 8:03:39 EDT PM

 

Life isn’t always fair, but it’s always good for a few laughs.

That’s especially true when it comes to the hapless Fluck family, led by its matriarch, Hilda.

The proof is on stage at Drayton Entertainment’s Huron Country Playhouse II where Norm Foster’s Hilda’s Yard is playing until July 29.

Hilda’s Yard is Foster at his best, his witty, comedic dialogue sparking lots of laughs around a dysfunctional family’s troubles.

The show stars Patti Allan as Hilda, a model 1950s housewife, Brian Linds as her lovable, old-fashioned husband, Sam, Alan Kliffer as son Gary who can’t get his life started, Ella Simon as naïve daughter Janey, Steffi DiDomenicantonio as Gary’s new girlfriend, Bobbi, a stylish free spirit and talented trombone player, and Brad Austin as gangster/bookie Beverly Woytowich.

The play is set in the mid-1950s, played out in the back yard of the modest Fluck home.

There we meet Hilda hanging laundry and telling her “neighbour” (Mrs. Lidstrom, whom we neither hear nor see) that her 30-something son, Gary, has finally moved out on his own after spending the last 11 years “recovering” from the Second World War, where he was a supply clerk far from the front lines.

Enter husband Sam dressed in a suit and off to buy the family’s first television set, taking a few hours off work to negotiate a deal and have the set delivered in time for the next episode of Gunsmoke.

With their daughter Janey also married and gone, Sam is determined to rediscover the romance of their youth and begins flirting and seducing the wife he adores.

“We can do it wherever and whenever we want!” declares Sam as he kisses “Hilly” goodbye and heads off to the store.

That’s when the fun begins.

First, Gary arrives, nervously climbing over the back fence trying to evade his bookie, Beverly, whom he can’t repay because he lost his job in the food industry (delivering pizzas).

Janey enters Hilda’s yard carrying a suitcase because she’s left her husband, who she complains is jealous and expecting her to do “awful” and “dirty” things, such as clean the toilet, and clearly wants more out of life than being a housewife.

Soon, Sam returns home, proud of his bargaining skills that shaved $2.50 off the $340 television set but is now worried he could lose his job at the paper products company where he’s worked for 27 years because he was late.

When Gary’s girlfriend, Bobbi, arrives, followed by the bookie, Beverly, who Hilda invites to dinner, the table is set for an interesting family gathering.

This show is anchored by Allan and Linds whose performances are flawless, bringing to life two interesting and believable characters.

The balance of the cast is also a delight, each just a little over the top, bigger than life but funny, quirky, interesting, endearing and convincing.

Foster is a master of comedic dialogue and storytelling, which is why he’s Canada’s most produced playwright.

Hilda’s Yard, in director Mark DuMez’s hands, sings, beautifully supported by excellent set and costume designs.

Although set in the 1950s, the story, characters and themes of family life are timeless, making for fun summer fare that should not be missed.

JBelanger@postmedia.com

 

If you go

What: Hilda’s Yard, a comedy by Norm Foster, presented by Drayton Entertainment, directed by Mark DuMez.

Where: Huron Country Playhouse II, 70689 B Line, Grand Bend.

When: Continuing until July 29.

Information: For tickets and show times, visit the box office or draytonentertainment.com or call 519-238-6000.

Rating: **** (out of five)