Saturday, August 20, 2011

Entertainment Stage

Peek behind Bedroom door hilarious

REVIEW: Port Stanley Festival Theatre

By JOE BELANGER, THE LONDON FREE PRESS

Last Updated: August 18, 2011 9:29am

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Betsy and Lou Ballantyne (Danielle Nicole and Chris Bancroft) agreed to have sex live on radio for $5,000 as a radio announcer delivered the play-by-play. Although the show is cancelled, they got to keep the cash and spend a free night in a hotel. Did anyone turn off the microphone? The hilarious Norm Foster play, Bedtime Stories, takes the audience on a wild romp at Port Stanley Festival Theatre. (DAVID WHITE, Special to QMI Agency)

SUMMER THEATRE

What goes on behind the bedroom door may not be anybody’s business, but it sure is fun to have a peak once in a while.

And audiences at Port Stanley Festival Theatre can thank renowned Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s comedic genius for opening that door in the hilarious production of Bedtime Stories.

Director Simon Joynes and his five-actor ensemble leave none of Foster’s brilliant writing wanting, first seducing the audience through a fun-filled first act before delivering one belly laugh after another in the second act and tying a neat bow around it all in the last of six bedroom vignettes.

The ensemble — Jim Doucette, Rod Keith, Danielle Nicole, Elana Post and Chris Bancroft — deliver a cast of 15 quirky characters in some unusual circumstances that are believable and, at times, even somehow familiar.

Nicole is particularly brilliant in her three roles, the first as middle-aged housewife Betsy Ballantyne, who has agreed to have sex with hubby Lou (Bancroft) in a hotel room where it is to be broadcast live on radio with a play-by-play delivered by ambitious radio announcer Eddie Nichols (Keith), whose neglected wife, Laura (played by Post), is moving to Edmonton that very night.

The Ballantynes are promised $5,000 — money they need to put their daughter Melody (also played by Post) through university — to do the nasty on radio when Nicholls, after seeing the love the Ballantynes share, has a change of heart, cancels the show, tells them to keep the cash and leaves to try and convince his wife to stay.

Well, the frisky Ballantynes know a good deal when they see one and aren’t about to waste a free night in a hotel room, not after years of having “quiet” sex at home with their daughter sleeping in the next room and the neighbour’s bathroom window but a few feet away.

Of course, the technician back at the station must not have been the sharpest hoe in the shed and, well, forgot to turn off the microphone attached to the headboard . . . and another wild Foster romp gets underway with five more vignettes that remind us just how small and deceptive a world it is in which we live.

Nicole later shines as Yolanda, an accident-prone exotic dancer, and Sandy, a brain-injured taxi driver.

But the entire cast deliver great performances, from Doucette’s take on a 52-year-old heavy metal rock star, Tommy Quick, to Keith’s performance as Charlie, a decent and sensitive strip club owner trying to fire Yolanda.

The set is functional, although the hotel room décor of the opening vignette, especially the mini-fridge, is ever-present, which leaves the audience momentarily confused about the setting for each scene.

Changing bedspreads (which should be much neater and the sheets crisper for the hotel scenes) and the addition of bedside photos doesn’t seem quite enough.

But that is one of the few flaws in a production that is easily the best and, sadly, the last of the Port Stanley Festival Theatre’s season, for which artistic director Joynes deserves a standing ovation.

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IF YOU GO

What: Bedtime Stories, written by Norm Foster, directed by Simon Joynes.

Where: Port Stanley Festival Theatre, 302 Bridge St.

When: Until Sept. 10, Tuesdays (8 p.m.) Wednesdays (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.), Thursdays (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.), Fridays (8 p.m.) and Saturdays (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.)

Admission: $25 for matinee, $28 for evening performances.

Information: Call 519-782-4353 or toll free at 1-855-782-4353 or visitwww.portstanleytheatre.ca

Rating: 5 (out of five)