Foster a delight to watch in 'The Love List'
By TRACEY TONG    
Staff Writer    
Thursday July 20, 2006    
     

MORRISBURG -- When an actor in a production is also the playwright, the interpretation of the script is as close as it gets. Not only does the audience have this assurance in the Upper Canada Playhouse's latest production, but it's a particular pleasure when the actor is Canada's most produced playwright, Norm Foster. In The Love List, which opened Saturday, Foster proves yet again that he's just as popular as an actor as he is as a playwright. Directed by Chris McHarge, The Love List is a comedy about the dangers of searching for perfection in a partner. On the occasion of his 50th birthday, unlucky in love Bill (playhouse newcomer David Nairn), receives a unique present from his best friend, Leon (Foster).

Leon's pushing Bill - who's been single for seven years - to find female companionship and presents him with a love list, which he's purchased from a dating service run by an old gypsy woman. Shortly after compiling a list of the top 10 traits that he looks for in a woman, Bill's perfect woman, Justine (Leisa Way) walks through the door. As the play goes on, Bill and Leon start changing the qualities on the list and Justine's personality changes as a result, with humorous and sometimes disastrous results. Foster's rakish charm is perfect for playing blunt and sometimes abrasive Leon, and Nairn (the artistic director at Theatre Orangeville, where The Love List was first produced) gets the audience laughing as flustered, excitable and slightly ridiculous statistician Bill.

 
 
Norm Foster and David Nairn in The Love List.

Way (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, Anne of Green Gables and A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline) is good as Justine, moving convincingly from the bubbly, ambitious woman who first walks in through the door to seductive to down-to-earth to snarky, rude, insecure and demure.

While the relationship between Bill and Justine moves along predictably, it's the loyalty-based and sometimes combative friendship between Bill and Leon that's truly interesting to watch. The Love List contains all kinds of questions about life for the audience and some great lines ("There's a tear in the cosmic pie crust and you and I have reached in and pulled out a plum") as well as an - we hope - exaggeratedly superficial way that men see women.

Vaughn Davis's set design offers great points of interest as well as being functional. While the bachelor pad conveys Bill's pack-rat sensibility, the stacks of papers and knick-knacks complements the actors and never overpowers the stage. A word to the wise - the play is liberally peppered with sexual references and innuendoes that you'd have to be born yesterday to miss. While it is probably safe to bring granny (as long as she doesn't have a heart condition), some of the things uttered by the actors made me want to cover the ears of the young lad I sat next to. The opening night audience was by no means bothered by these references and was in fact kept in stitches throughout. Altogether, the suggestive language and occasional profanity don't cross any lines that cable TV hasn't already.

The Love List continues until August 6, with shows at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. matinees Wednesdays, Sundays and select Saturdays. For more tickets, call 613-543-3713.