Mooney on theatre
The Love List, now playing in Toronto, is a ďmust-see for all lovers of light-hearted comedy.Ē
By Gian Verano

When was the last time you checked out an online dating service? Browse through the profiles and youíll inevitably come across a sea of bullet lists describing each userís must-haves. But is there really such thing as a perfect match?

Written by prolific Canadian playwright Norm Foster, The Love List takes a comedic look at one manís attempt at finding his picture-perfect soul mate.

Thereís so much to love about this two-act production, which opened Thursday night at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Foster is well-known for creating endearing characters that really resonate with an audience, and this piece is no different.

With a small cast of just 3 characters, Foster effortlessly draws us into the world he has created inside the small apartment of his main character.

Bill (Richard Hoffman) isnít your typical ladiesí man. A geologist by trade, heís quiet and prefers the realm of numbers and statistics to real-life human interaction Ė so much so that he really only has one friend, Leon (Jerrold Karch). In a friendship reminiscent of The Odd Couple, Leon is Billís complete opposite. Brash and debonair, Leon loves the ladies and has a long list of extramarital indiscretions to prove it.

The play takes place on the Eve of Billís birthday. Tired of his friendís long spell of bachelor life, Leon signs Bill up for a dating service. To find Billís perfect match, all thatís required is to compile a list of 10 essential attributes in a partner.

Enter Justine (Kathleen Pollard), who is the living embodiment of these attributes. To their surprise, Bill and Leon soon realize that by changing the items of the list, they can also change Justineís personality. The plot of this piece centres on these changes, as both men try to determine what characteristics make for an ideal mate.

What really ties this play together is the gradual evolution of every character. Each character experiences his or her own moment of truth, inevitably becoming a better person as the play progresses. In doing so, itís hard not to get caught up in each characterís journey. That level of audience investment is made possible through the use of naturalistic dialogue. There were never any lines that seemed too implausible. Even the wittiest, most poignant lines read believably as things people would say in everyday life.

With regards to the acting, the trio of Hoffman, Karch and Pollard is a casting match made in heaven. These seasoned actors played effortlessly off each other without missing a beat. You canít help but smile watching Hoffman on stage: his likeability is infectious and his delivery on-point.

As for Karch, itís the subtleties of his performance that really made his character shine. Whether through a sidelong wink to the audience or a barely noticeable smirk during his dialogue, Karch really committed to his character and brought him to life.

However, if I were to pick a stand-out star of the night, my vote would have to go to Kathleen Pollard. It takes a lot of skill and talent to be able to quickly transition between various personality traits and motivations. Pollard is a master of the on-stage quick-change: she moves effortlessly between a broad range of emotions and even regional accents, all while retaining an air of congeniality and poise.

All in all, this production was crisp, polished, and beautifully executed. The Love List is an endearing romantic comedy that teaches us that true love isnít about finding the perfect partner, but about learning to love your partnerís imperfections.

This light-hearted play is an extraordinary addition to Encore EntertainmentĎs 2014-2015 season and is a must-see for all lovers of light-hearted comedy.