Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Mending Fences powerful
Norm Foster, Heather Hodgson and Derek Ritschel

When the house lights come up, the actors take the stage for their final bows, and you are on your feet applauding until your hands hurt while tears run down your cheeks and your belly aches from all the laughing, you know you've seen a good play.

Norm Foster's Mending Fences is more than that though. It is a great play, and according to many who attend the opening night on a regular basis at the Port Mansion Theatre, this is the best that this intimate venue has ever staged.

Mending Fences made its opening night world premiere debut on November 10'th. The star performer was the author himself--and his acting talents were only exceeded by the writing itself which is tight, fast and furious, brought to life in brilliant fashion by director Chris McHarge. As Harry, Foster's interplay with Derek Ritschel, who plays his son Drew, is a masterpiece of timing and delivery. This is not the first play the two have performed in together but it is the first play that Foster wrote specifically with Ritschel in mind.

Providing the glue that bonds the relationship between father and son is the female ingredient played by Heather Hodgson. At most times, she is Gin, Harry's paramour, but then the lights dim and she becomes Lori, Harry's former wife, and in one not-so-sober but very serious scene, she appears as his mother. Her respective roles not only define the who and why of Harry, but also help expose the relationship, or lack of, that he now has with his son.

Mending Fences portrays human drama that is relevant to anyone who has ever been a parent, a son or a daughter, which includes us all. It tells a story that spans two generations but takes place over a few days. It is a powerful play that uses hockey as the symbol of a powerplay between father and son. Foster's magic is in his ability to weave pathos with humour without ever confusing the audience about whether it's time to laugh or cry. An excellent script supported by superb acting makes this a powerful play and a must-see for everyone who appreciates the magic of live theatre. This is Theatre In Port at its best.