Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Foster Play Takes Kincardine by 'Storm'

By Kelly Young Kincardine News Staff


It occurred to me as I sat experiencing the world premiere of Storm Warning by Norm Foster at The Bluewater Summer Playhouse that being able to review this particular play at this particular time was both an honour and a large responsibility. The play was written specifically for Rick Kish, artistic director of the Kincardine theatre, and almost no one else in the press has had the opportunity to critique this latest in a long list of plays by one of Canada’s favourite playwrights. It’s not an opportunity we in small town Ontario get very often, to be one of the first to see and comment on a play of this magnitude and, frankly, importance in the theatrical and literary scene. This thought definitely gave me pause.

Luckily, however, a review of this wonderfully crafted production should flow almost as easily as did the play itself. A warning it is indeed, as Storm Warning is sure to take Canada by storm. Foster has outdone himself, writing a play that not only entertains and keeps the audience enthralled from start to finish, but a play with a depth of character and story that takes the audience away and out of themselves for an evening. The intermission was in fact, an interruption, as many people were back in their seats long before it was over, waiting eagerly to see the conclusion to this gripping yet humourous story. Foster couldn’t have chosen a better director to helm this latest offering, and Kish has risen to the challenge with a flair that carries over to all aspects of the play.

Foster’s characters are real, made so in stunning fashion by actors Daniel McCarthy as the troubled and put-upon Jack Forrester, and Tracey Hway as the overly energetic and vivacious Emma Currie. The two actors play off each other with an ease that gives the audience the feeling that they are truly eavesdropping on a private scene. As a result the audience forget for a while that they are actually sitting in a theatre. The play is set in cottage country, the stage beautifully decorated by Allan Wilbee in such a way that many will have flashbacks to their own days at the cottage or lake.

Jack is a World War II veteran who has retreated from life and Emma is a big band chart writer whose search for a bit of solitude to work in gives her more than she expected. Both have emotional baggage--which the actors bring out with such conviction it tugs at even the toughest heartstrings--and as the play progresses, the two help each other come to terms with their problems and with each other.

While the underlying storyline is touching and dramatic, both McCarthy and Hway skillfully deliver the comedic lines provided by Foster that keep the edge off and carry the play throughout. Some of Emma’s off-colour comments startle the audience as much as they do Jack, and his reactions to her personality quirks are a joy to watch. McCarthy’s stunning dramatic soliloquies are literally breathtaking, and it’s easy to imagine that Foster had this particular actor in mind when he wrote the part of Jack. His description of his war experiences in particular, so artfully written, is delivered with such passion and conviction, the audience is left stunned by the intensity.

Storm Warning is definitely a play that shouldn’t be missed, and the opportunity to be among the first to see it is a unique one. Theatres across the country will be clamouring to produce this gem, but Bluewater Summer Playhouse will always have the honour of saying it was done here first.