Prince George Free Press
TNW makes Norm Foster play a masterpiece

by Teresa Mallam

April 19, 2011

Theatre North West’s last play of the season, Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun, is absolutely outstanding. Bravo! The play is very funny. Heroic and heartwarming. Riveting from start to finish.

Ted Price was smart to make this wonderful play his “swan song” as artistic director for TNW – but don’t fret, he’ll be back next year to direct a Neil Simon play. Why more Canadian theatres don’t take on this gem of a play is beyond me. Clearly, playwright Norm Foster is a genius. Local audiences loved On the Flight Path and the Love List.

This time Foster tells the very charming and poignant story of a special bond that grows between two unlike but likeable people with problems – Robert, a mentally challenged 35-year-old man, and Holly, a pregnant young woman. Saturday night, we held on for dear life as we went on a wild roller-coaster ride. What a great time. The play tugged all our emotions. We laughed, we learned a lesson (about responsibility) and we often lingered on the verge of tears. This is one of the best plays – if not the best – I have ever seen in 30 years as a reporter.

The cast is well chosen. Obviously the actors worked hard to do justice to a great script and bring their characters to life. These are serious actors who, with Price’s guidance, not only took on the complexities of their characters but went along with them on their journey of life.

Vancouver actor Colby Wilson, who plays Robert Castle, is a superb talent. He portrays Robert as a man with, yes, a muddled mind, but with a humble heart. Wilson endeared himself and his character to the audience. When he delivered a funny line and the audience broke out in laughter, he stayed in character – not quite getting the joke himself. Wilson’s clever facial expressions, speech, perfect timing and body language totally hit the mark. His interaction with Holly (Kaela Aryn) and his mother, Claire (Marsha Knight) rings true. Wilson is a director’s dream. Price told me he, Wilson and other cast members spent a day interacting with the folks at AimHi so they could wrap their heads around the character of Robert Castle and real people with mental challenges.

Aryn is a perfect match for Wilson in talent, tenacity and timing. She has great comedic (and dramatic) flair and a gift for pulling in the audience and holding them there – you don’t let go until she lets you. Knight is a good choice as Robert’s very spiritual, caring and devoted mother. Ian Farthing is a delight as English professor Simon Garvey. His character comes off as a bit of a callous cad at first but who later redeems himself when he uncovers his hidden emotions. Farthing’s a fine actor with good stage presence. His voice projects well and has a pleasing cadence, quite possibly because of his formal training as a singer.

Finola Gallagher does a good job as Claire’s family physician Doctor Andrews, the bearer of bad news. She brings to the stage a no-nonsense strut and slight arrogance, in keeping with her character. All around, an excellent cast.

Theatre North West’s Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun by Norm Foster plays at Parkhill Centre until May 5. Tickets are selling fast. They are available at Books and Company or by phone at 250-614-0039.