Great round of laughs from The Foursome
August 17, 2007

Valerie Hill

RECORD STAFF

It really doesn't matter if you don't know a sand trap from a fairway, the Schoolhouse Theatre's new production, The Foursome -- about four guys playing 18 holes -- is hilarious. And yes, you'll get the golf jokes.

Billing itself a "hole-in-one comedy" this Norm Foster play directed by Max Reimer delivers funny punches throughout and the cast play off each other with comedic skills and timing worthy of this great script. The action opens on the golf course, 7 a.m., the morning after their 15-year graduating class reunion. Cameron is eager, Rick is smarmy, Donnie is clueless and Ted is hungover. A perfect beginning to what develops into an opportunity for these old friends to catch up on each other's lives. And while such a plot line could sink into a lot of woe-is-me whining, it never does.

But there are a few serious discussions and heartfelt confessions like when the childless Ted reveals he's "shooting blanks" and hence his first wife left while Donnie, father of five, "has a cannon in his pants." The jokes rarely slip over to the side of blatant sexual innuendo but when it does, it's side-splitting. Foster is superb at exploring the male psyche, their reluctance to admit any shortcomings or discuss, God forbid, feelings. In The Foursome, this pathos comes across clearly and with humour but without making the men look like idiots. Lovably goofy perhaps, but never stupid.

The strength of this play of course is due largely to the four terrific and experienced actors: Sheldon Davis as Donnie is a shortish balding guy and a pathetic golfer who has these big googly eyes that pop like a pug. He is the guy with all the kids, a wife, good job and is making no apologies for having little to talk about other than his family. He's a happy guy living a simple life.

Ted, played by Mark Harapiak, is good-looking and athletic, coming across as macho but with a hint of vulnerability as he talks about why his first wife left. It's that whole "shooting blanks" thing. Perhaps he's trying to make up for his, umm, shortcomings by choosing as his second wife a woman in her early 20s. This May-December romance provides plenty of hilarious fodder for his golfing buddies.

Cameron is the geeky guy in plaid pants, played by Lee MacDougall. Cam is a red-headed worry wart riddled with angst over why, though they were all so close in university, the four rarely ever connect anymore. He is married and has a son who loves dance and figure skating. The jokes at this kid's expense are predictable but funny.

Richard Quesnel plays the fourth golfer, a character named Rick. Predictably tall, dark and handsome, he feels the need to maintain a playboy image, though when the truth is eventually revealed everyone is shocked. And no, he's not gay. The stage setting is simple: just a backdrop painted to look like distance trees. The golfers take their shots between two wooden tee blocks, firing an imaginary ball down the fairway, then head offstage, re-entering from a different direction to the next hole. In the meantime the tee blocks -- attached to long metal poles -- have magically been moved by the golf fairies under the stage.

If there is one problem in this production, it's for the sake of the audience. The few shots ( the actors really do take their swings with real clubs) aimed toward the audience are a bit too close and at least one audience member in the front row ducked each time the club swung her way. The Foursome is a play difficult to criticize, easy to watch and perfect summer theatre fare, regardless of your sex or golfing status.