THE FOURSOME by Norm Foster Directed by Max Reimer March 28 to April 12, 2003: Evenings at 8 p.m., Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. For tickets, call the Box Office at 905-522-7529 or toll-free 1-800-465-7529, du Maurier Ltd. Centre, 190 King William Street, Hamilton, Ontario Ticket prices Matinees: $26-$37, Mon. to Fri. evenings: $33-$41, Saturday evenings: $37-$47

HAMILTON LOVES NORM FOSTER

review by Morton Fogsangler

It must be satisfying for playwright Norm Foster to make the short trip from his home in Ancaster to the Theatre Aquarius stage in Hamilton, to be in a play which he has authored, to rehearse with actor buddies and with theatrical associate Max Reimer, and then, at the playís conclusion opening night, to receive the thunderous standing ovation of an appreciate audience. Fosterís plays have become a staple in the Theatre Aquarius menu, and given his prodigious creative output, Hamilton area fans should be feasting on them for decades. The Foursome is vintage Foster fare. Four college pals get together for a round of golf during a class-reunion weekend. The playís format is fairly structured: as they tee off at each hole one of them gets put down by the others, a secret is revealed, and they exit to a fitting Foster one-liner. Despite this uniformity and the almost monochromatic very, very green set, there are enough hooks and slices in the story to add variety and spice to each scene. Rotating tee-off markers also provide an amusing touch. In this production the hole-in-one-liners come fast and furious, with chuckles every few lines and a major guffaw a minute, much of the latter issuing from the women in the gallery.

  They seem to revel in the insights to the male psyche that Foster satirizes: the one-upmanship, the put-downs, the sarcasm, the emotional handicaps, the fantasies and insecurities around sex. And just when you begin to dislike each of the four men, on the back nine Foster generates some gender-role reversal or reveals redeeming aspects of their personalities. This feel-good, laugh-well play is a welcome relief from the smart-bomb/dumb-bomb images that blitz us on our television sets these days. There is not a duffer among the cast. Norm Foster plays the laconic Ted; his lanky frame and laid-back manner make it seem the part, well, could have been written for him. C. David Johnson is the womanizing, manipulative Rick, and he aces the acid tongue and matching attitude the part demands. Brian McKay directed the previous Aquarius production, Blithe Spirit, and he birdies the worried-man, hypochondriacal Cameron role. The audience favourite is Frank McAnulty who, as Donnie, scores an eagle in pulling off the playís physical humour. Director/coach Max Reimer claims not to have contributed much to the success of the production, but he has his actors up and down in fine fashion. There isnít much not to like about The Foursome. Perhaps the only double-bogey is Foster's inclusion in the script of two well-hacked jokes. No obvious hazards or divots are associated with the supporting staff who manage stage, sound, lighting, set and costumes. If golf is "a good walk spoiled", then The Foursome is a good trip to the theatre savoured.