October 20, 2010
 
Skin Flick delivers arousing performance
 
IN THE SPOTLIGHT COLUMN with Chris Halliday
 

Theatre Orangeville’s production of Skin Flick scores a trifecta in my book. The show delivers five strong acting performances, a thought-provoking script, in addition to bringing a load of laughs to the forefront. Although the plot revolves around a down-on-their-luck married couple’s epiphany to produce a porno flick, the story, almost seamlessly, weaves two offsetting love stories into the mix.

Written by Canadian playwright Norm Foster and directed by Walter Learning, Skin Flick offers a roller coaster of laughs as its out-of-their-element characters Rollie and Daphne Waters — played by David Nairn and Susan Greenfield — coerce two unlikely porn stars to let loose in front of the camera.

Foster, who makes his return to the Orangeville stage, stars as Alex Tratt, Rollie’s rough around the edges, mooching, blue-collar friend and recently fired news cameraman. If the four remaining members of the cast didn’t put forth such strong performances, I’d say Foster might have stolen the show, as his rugged, hard-nosed character delivers non-stop punch lines. Titillating the crowd with a multitude of sexually themed one-liners, I caught myself chuckling even when Foster’s lines weren’t supposed to be funny — although there were very few scenes where Alex was not there to provide comic relief.

 

Maria Dinn and David Nairn

The intriguing part of this play, in my mind, is how Rollie’s narrative sequences not only develop the plot, they add a multitude of moments to snicker at throughout. From the time Rollie censors Alex’s foul language, by blipping out his curse words without his knowledge, Nairn’s contribution really personified the character as your ordinary next door neighbour by way of his interaction with the audience throughout the night.

No stranger to comedic roles, Nairn, who previously starred in front of Toronto audiences as Thenardier in Les Miserables, was spot-on in his role as the show’s supportive, easy going, “Hunny, I’m home,” type husband and businessman. Even on the day he received the news he’d soon be out of work, Rollie remembers to bring home a video his wife asked him to rent — although mistakes the comedy Fun with Dick and Jane, for a porno called Fun with Dick.

 

It was similarly captivating to watch Daphne’s transformation from someone at first hesitant to make a skin flick into the porno film’s highly involved director — backwards hat, clipboard and all.

In addition, the loving relationship between Rollie and Daphne appeared genuine on stage, and was equally interesting to watch as the married couple’s set-in-stone routines change along with the plot. From the very onset, it is clear how devoted the couple are to each other, but as the play progresses, the two discover how walking on the wild side every now and then infuses more excitement into a 28-year-old marriage.

Once Rollie, Daphne and Alex decide to produce their porno movie, into their lives stumbles Jill (Maria Dinn), a feisty out-of-work actress working as a telegram messenger. In her Theatre Orangeville debut performance, Dinn’s presence as the sexy, chip-on-her-shoulder, “I know what I want” female lead in the group’s porno movie was captivating. Aside from the one time Jill — distraught over the self-discovery her breasts were pointing down and not up — was seen fighting off laughter while taking a swig from her beer on opening night, Dinn was believable as a struggling actress looking for that first big break, no matter what genre. As the play unfolds, however, Jill discovers it is not an acting gig, but true love, missing in her life.

Playing the role of Byron Hobbs — Alex’s mild mannered bookie and last person you’d think of as being cast as the male lead in a porno film — Jamie Williams offered the audience quite a few surprises. Drawing on his experience playing Byron in Skin Flick’s premiere in Halifax, N.S., Williams’ transformation from a sincere gentleman who at first couldn’t even gather up the gull to grab Jill’s breast into someone making a few discoveries about his inner self was stimulating, to say the least.

If I had to make one criticism of Skin Flick, however, it’d have to be that several times — certainly not in every instance — I could predict what and when sexual-themed comments were about to be said before performers spit them out. One could call that remarkable script writing and another person might call it predictable storytelling. Then again, others might simply label it the influence of a seemingly sex-obsessed world.

Any of that predictability, however, was certainly not evident in the show’s ending. During the entire plot, characters had the audience thinking one way, and then near the end, an unthinkable plot twist happened.

Skin Flick, which includes adult language and situations, plays at the Orangeville Town Hall Opera House until Oct. 31. For tickets, call the box office at 519-942-3423 or visit www.theatreorangeville.ca.