Art mirroring life

Written by Norm Foster

Directed by Bill Meaden

Played by Steve Favro, Joanne Lubansky Johns, Rod Lim, John Pacheco, Misty Ropp

A London Community Players Production The Palace Theatre May 1–9, 2009

Reviewed by Donald D'Haene, May 2, 2009

Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun is an emotionally-charged play that explores the relationship between a disabled man, Robert (Steve Favro) and a young pregnant woman, Holly (Misty Ropp). The play, like real life, is a constant tug-of-war between humour and pathos, selfishness and selflessness, surviving and thriving.

This Norm Foster play is the perfect blend of comedy and drama. He is a master at it, after all, but this is one time I actually thought the playwright was invisible. That’s right — no Fosterisms in sight.

With a script this good, I suggest the stakes for a production of Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun are even higher — fit for a fall. Fortunately, I had a smile on the entire show, guffawed in many parts and got teary eyed too.

An audience often determines the momentum of a show on any given night. But the performers are so in tune with their characters, I believe they would give the same performance whether the audience had 10 individuals or the full house of 350 that the Palace Theatre can hold. Credit must go to director Bill Meaden for the way in which he has guided his actors. No mawkish moments in sight. The laughter and tears on the audience’s part are spontaneous and in response to the truth we see up on that stage. Not once did I feel a choice was made to earn a positive response, yet earn it this production did.

Meaden also designed the set which was minimalistic heaven on earth. Nothing got in the way of focusing on the story unfolding on stage. Stephen Mitchell’s lighting design was spot on and so was the use of music between scenes.

Favro is a revelation. I have been up close and personal with many “Roberts” in my life so I could spot a false note a mile away. His performance was astounding. I don’t know Favro, nor have I ever seen him act before. You could have told me Favro was a disabled actor and I would have believed it. There is no greater compliment I could give an actor.

Matching him every step of the way was Ms. Ropp. She is naturally beautiful, but willingly submerged her appearance for her character to ring true. Hence we focus on the woman who is struggling to survive on little means and not the actress and how she looks with her hair, makeup and wardrobe. She was so real you could not predict her gestures, facial expressions or vocal inflections. How refreshing.

Joanne Lubansky Johns, John Pacheco and Rod Lim balance out the fine cast. I am focusing on the two leads because without their firm anchor, it doesn’t matter how good the secondary characters are, this ship would sink. As it is, they provide wonderful support to two leads who both deserve to be nominated for an acting award. People say to me all the time, “I’ve read your review. Now tell me what you really think!” Okay, just this once, the gloves are off. The London Community Players’ production of Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun is one of the best shows I’ve seen at the Palace Theatre in years. Hell, easily in the top five of the shows I’ve seen in any theatre of late — and I’ve seen a lot folks.