Wellington Advertiser
 
Bedtime Stories an absolutely hilarious, well-constructed play
 
by David Meyer........June 18 2012
 

WATERLOO - What a difference 20 years can make in the theatre world. Back then, almost every performance received a standing ovation, as if the audience would be embarrassed to do less - even if moderate applause was all that was deserved.

But Bedtimes Stories by Norm Foster not only received stand-up applause last week, but very much earned it. Perhaps it was Foster himself in the audience for the opening at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, or maybe it was a uniformly-excellent cast, and, very likely, the incredible humour that has Foster the most produced playwright in Canada - or a mixture. The play is a series of six vignettes, with five actors doing three roles apiece.

It takes incredible talent to switch from one character to another, but with costume designer Nichol Del Cul in command, it actually appeared there were 15 people on stage. Director Chris McHarge gets the absolute best out of everyone here. The scenes all take place in a bedroom, and there are a number of recurring themes.

   

It opens with a radio jock desperate to hit the big time offering a couple $5,000 to have sex over the airwaves, with him describing the action. In the end, he bails but they remain in the hotel room. Unknown to them, the recorder is left on and their antics for the next few hours are played over the airwaves.

Foster has done an incredible job of weaving a disparate group of people into a whole cloth of hilarity. There is a cab driver who could get lost in a two street town, a sensitive shock rocker with heel problems, an accountant turned crook who cannot understand the term "silent alarm," a stripper who not only can't dance, but is clumsy, and, through it all, Foster focuses on relationships and how men and women interact. To say he does that in a comedic way is a gross understatement. There are howls throughout. Even when people could see the joke coming, actors Brad Austin, Terry Bara, Karen Coughlin, Alison Lawrence and Ralph Small were so compelling they still got huge laughs.

Alison Lawrence, Ralph Small, Brad Austin, Bedtime Stories, 2012
 

To cite one scene only, Coughlin, who is leaving her husband, lectures a pair of movers about the faults of men. Humourist Dan Jenkins once wrote of "the look" and said, "Women do it better than leopards." Coughlin was particularly adept. Barna, too, had the audience in stitches as shock rocker Tommy Quick, who was also a constant theme through the show. It took nearly a minute after his entrance to say his first line because of the laughter.

The cast was that good. The facial expressions of all of them added to great writing. From a mover with a bad back, to the hilarious middle aged couple being paid to make love, to a dying man visited in a hospital by a girl who once taunted and treated him cruelly, the acting was incredible. The music that segues one scene to the next was not only perfect, but also added to the comedy. Nobody will ever again listen to Born to Be Wild the same way after seeing this show.

The set work by Stephen Degenstein set the mood wonderfully. It was Spartan in many ways, with a big bed and a few pieces of furniture, but the art on the walls transformed it from a hospital room to the office of a guy running a stripper operation.

The entire production is one that should not be missed by anyone in need of a good laugh. Foster examines love, hatred, boredom, cruelty, desperation, compassion and all the human elements that go with those - and he does it with style, humanity and a lot of humour.

Bedtime Stories runs through June 30. Tickets are available at the theatre box office, by calling 519-747-7788 (toll free 1-855-372-9866) or at stjacobscountryplayhouse.com.