2010-10-21 Regional News
Skin Flick: a brilliant, funny Norm Foster play
By Constance Scrafield

A playwright can put the funniest lines in the language on the page, but the comedy’s success depends as well on the delivery of those lines. Go and see Skin Flick, currently playing at Theatre Orangeville, for Norm Foster’s very funny dialogue is handled by the cast with tremendous comedic skill.

Of course, it is not only the humorous writing that tops the bill but the body language, the timing and the nuances that have to deliver the goods.

The first act of Skin Flick establishes the problems and the proposed solution, the almost plausible reasons and conditions for Act 2. Act 1 keeps you chuckling but Act 2 strips away (if I may put it like that) your inhibitions and has you roaring with laughter as the plot heats up and the actors heat up with it. I am really reluctant to expose, as it were, the plot of this piece, for discovery is half the fun, but there are the twists and surprises we have come to expect from the clever Mr. Foster who is never predictable.

Maria Dinn, Susan Greenfield and Jamie Williams in Skin Flick. 2010. Photo by Pete Paterson

However, just to lay down the premise of the story, a married couple, Rollie and Daphne, discover they are both out of work and, with a son in university, potentially broke. Their pal, Alex, then comes in to tell them that he, too, has been fired from his job, and is, likewise, broke. One way and another, they come up with the idea to make a porn film. And, really, that’s all you need to know.

One might well speculate that Norm Foster wrote this play so he could act the part of Alex, the tough-skinned, cynical cameraman, promoter of the project. Certainly, he is the perfect Alex – straightfaced funny, throwing out his lines with spot on timing, thrusting his (or Alex’s) personal logic into every question. In total contrast to Alex is the effervescent Rollie, played by David Nairn, as though the writing of the role had Mr. Nairn in mind all along. His Cheshire Cat grin guides us through the folly in an interesting and off-beat way.

Susan Greenfield is just terrific as the energetic and determined Daphne, Rollie’s wife. As much as Alex, she is the power behind the production, extricating herself from her prim middle class persona to porn film director without missing a beat. With feminine determination, she is prepared to walk along a murky patch in the road of life to direct her family back to financial safety.

It is a treat to welcome back Jamie Williams, who was “Father” in last Christmas’ production of A Christmas Story. Mr. Williams’ role as careful, reticent, – initially – mildmannered Byron in Skin Flick is very different from his former role on the Theatre Orangeville stage. Bryon begins his involvement in the plot with confusion and reluctance, adding another emotional element to the mix. Mr. Williams offers Bryon’s coming of age at this late stage of his life with sincerity and great warmth. He makes it all look easy and very amusing.

Presented as the catalyst to the story is Jill, played by the vivacious Maria Dinn, whose sunshine bright face flashes her internal headlines with complete clarity. Her distress, rage, inspirations, confidence and state of dazzlement are all perfectly portrayed before she ever says a word. She is quite a contrast to Byron. So now there are four contrasting characters: the cynical Alex and the Cheshire cat Rollie; the anxious, backward Byron and the aggressive, open Jill. They are garnered and guided by the intelligent and clear sighted Daphne. Porn is not her thing, for sure, but she is set on establishing material gain for them all by this temporary delving into life’s seamier side.

There is nothing of offense in this extremely funny trip that our five characters take. Mr. Foster’s handling of every inch of “smut” comes back light hearted and entertaining. Although the subject matter is not for children (because they wouldn’t get it), take your granny, take your teenager – and everyone else – to this great romp that puts the whole subject of porn films in its place. Skin Flick is a potentially raunchy story told with good taste and wit – typical Norm Foster.

It runs at Theatre Orangeville until October 31. Call the box office at 519-942-3423 for tickets or check them out online at www.theatreorangeville.ca * * Share this Search Archives