The Wellington Advertiser
 
REVIEW: Ladies Foursome an uproarious, no-holds-barred comedy
 
By Chris Daponte
October 24, 2014

ORANGEVILLE - For the "extremely-amateur" golfers among us, the game can be so frustrating we regularly question why we would put ourselves through such cruel torture. The answer, of course, is the experience - often including in-depth conversations with fellow golfers on topics as far removed from the game as possible - is far more important than the final damage on the scorecard.

Truth be told, if played with the right partners, golf can be more therapeutic than a visit to a mental health professional. That, in a nutshell, is the basic premise behind Norm Foster's latest play, The Ladies Foursome, which is on stage now at Theatre Orangeville.

Fab four - Melanie Janzen, Leah Oster, Jane Spence and Sharon Heldt star in Norm Foster's The Ladies Foursome, on stage at Theatre Orangeville until Nov. 2. (submitted photo)  
 

The sport may provide the backdrop for the production, but prospective audiences should know two things: the play is not about golf; nor does it appeal only to women. It does incorporate some of the basic elements of Foster's previous hit play The Foursome(including certain characters' propensity for drinking and their frustration with the game), but The Ladies Foursome is an original story that stands on its own as a no-holds-barred, uproarious comedy.

Friends Margot, Connie and Tate (deftly played by Sharon Heldt, Melanie Janzen and Leah Oster respectively) gather to play a round of golf one day removed from the funeral of their close friend Catherine, with whom they golfed as a foursome for 14 years.

Joining the women this round is Dory (the marvelous Jane Spence), who spent two weeks a year with Catherine at the inn she operates with her husband on Arrowhead Lake in northern Ontario. Dory's prowess on the golf course, combined with her intimate knowledge of Catherine's life (much of which turns out to be a surprise for her three "best friends"), creates a competitive, and at times uncomfortable, atmosphere amongst the four women, resulting in a number of hilarious exchanges.

The barbs start out innocently enough, but escalate quickly into serious matters, with results ranging from boisterous assertions to complete silence. No topic is taboo for the foursome. Their conversations run the social gamut, from religion, kids, marriage and men, to sex, careers and drinking.

A few times on opening night all four actresses could have paused longer to allow audience laughter to subside (some lines were inaudible due to hasty delivery), and there were a few fumbled lines during the Oct. 17 show. But those are minor criticisms of an otherwise phenomenal production.

While much of the play's comedic material is provided for Janzen, who plays Connie with unwavering fervour, the other three players are very funny in their own right - and all four seem perfectly cast for their roles.

Catherine may be the catalyst for the production and for all that is revealed therein, yet the play is really an examination of the four friends she has left behind. The four women, while each very unique, all struggle with their own dependency or addiction problems and also with balancing a career/dream with a marriage/family, leading to some very powerful and emotional scenes.

The Ladies Foursome splits sides with laughter in one moment and tugs at heartstrings the next, touchstones of a writing style that has made Foster the most produced - and funniest - Canadian playwright in the world.

It is downright hilarious; a "hole in one" - not that any of us amateurs are keeping score.

The Ladies Foursome plays five shows a week at Theatre Orangeville until Nov. 2. For tickets call 519-942-3423 or 1-800-424-1295 or visit www.theatreorangeville.ca.