Northumberland Today
Players' production a joy to watch
Special to Northumberland Today

Norm Foster, Canada’s most prolific and produced playwright, has a crazy mind that produces extraordinary plots that result in plays that are gut bustingly funny.

Born in Newmarket in 1949 he studied radio and television arts then began a radio career that spanned 25 years. His last job was in Fredericton NB as the host of a radio show. Never having seen a play he went with a friend to an audition and landed an acting job. He became thoroughly immersed in the theatre and wrote his first play: ‘Sinners’. He has now written more than 50 plays that have been produced on professional stages around the world. Foster is known for his humour and his uncanny ability to understand and explain life.

Jenny’s House of Joy is all about women. Women of the night. And day, it seems, at Jenny’s House. We do get to know a few guys but only through the eyes of these women: Soiled Doves, whores, women of disrepute, who live at Jenny Starbuck’s Baxter Springs Brothel in 1871 Kansas. Jenny’s is a cattle town brothel where cowboys and others, like the local mayor, pay a visit and three bucks for a spin with one of our lovelies. Norm Foster calls this a Western, not a comedy. I call it an amazing, insightful, gut bustingly funny play that is superbly produced, directed and performed by the inimitable Northumberland Payers.

Madam Jenny, who has already lost one of her girls to marriage, wakes up one morning to Anita’s announcement that she is going off on a trip for several weeks with one of her clients, the one who got her reading. Jenny is worried; she’s one girl short and there’s a cattle drive tomorrow; she’s left with Frances, an older whore who drinks a lot of whiskey and doesn’t believe in love. (“What do I say when it’s all over? Get off!”) Enter Natalie. She has run away from an abusive doctor husband and comes begging for a job. Jenny gets a new girl, Anita gets a new friend, and Frances gets a new target for her whiskey laced sarcasm. However, Jenny’s House of Joy may have got a schemer with an agenda.

There are lines in this play that had the audience laughing so hard the players had to wait. There are lines in this play that on a couple of occasions had the players trying hard to hold on to themselves. There are lines in this play that are so clever it takes a minute. And every line is delivered with comedic mastery by these perfectly cast women.

The set is absolutely, stunningly brilliant. The costumes are exactly 1871 and magnificent. There is a hat I would kill for and a few dresses that I don’t have the…well enough about me.

Pick up the phone as soon as you have read this and order your ticket. It will be a sell out.

Jenny’s House of Joy runs at the Cobourg Best Western until Nov. 6. Call 905-372-2105 for tickets.