The Peterborough Examiner
Storm Warning provides avenue for zingers in all directions
Peterborough Theatre Guild production By Bea Quarrie
Tuesday September 20, 2011

Canada's most prolific playwright, Norm Foster, penned a well-crafted play, a romantic comedy, in 2003 called Storm Warning. It has played across the country in almost every little theatre since then; and it is no wonder. He takes everyday kitchen sink situations and explodes them into laughter. Like his American counterpart Neil Simon, his fictional world depends on taking cliched characters and giving them a fresh twist; take some pretty dark material and exploring the humourous aspects with verve and some pretty sharp one liners.

Storm Warning has some of the somewhat formulaic approach in that it presents two polar opposite characters, places them in an improbable situation and having revelations both profound and hackneyed surface.

A war-damaged ex-army officer takes refuge from the world in a silent and somewhat remote cottage on Pigeon Lake when in waltzes a loud, pill popping broad from the big city to take up residence in the adjacent cabin. Mayhem ensues as their opposing worlds collide. Jack, it turns out, has a heart of gold as big as Emma's, and both of these characters go on a journey as they reveal themselves to each other.

The Peterborough Theatre Guild's first offering of the season is strongly cast with Randy Lawrence and Laura Kennedy essaying the roles of Jack and Emma. They play off each other well, creating a reality in which the feminist go-getter and the shy withdrawn veteran are inevitably attracted to each other. Zingers fly in every direction. Kennedy modulates her vocal delivery and attacks the role with enough gusto for both actors. Lawrence warms up the audience slowly, but does get his zinger responses in whenever possible. Lawrence has an emotionally impactive speech which could be much more powerful if the emotions were simmering under the surface, like an unerupted volcano. Kennedy slinks comfortably around the befuddled Lawrence in her skimpies (clever costumes by Gwen Hope).

David Morris' direction makes it fun to watch the two actors romp about the simple and effective set (Art Murray) obviously enjoying the rapport they have with the audience. Not so much fun is the ramp that makes their every move in act one thud over the dialogue. Although the music bridging the scenes is well chosen, these entre-acts are too drawn out and dissipate the energy the actors have worked so hard to create. Perhaps when the technical support for this production becomes crisper, the time between scenes less elastic and the rain modulated in the second act, the show will be wowing the audience as it should. All the elements are there!

Storm Warning runs until Oct. 1 at the Rogers St. Guild Hall. Evening shows begin at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m. Plays do not run Mondays and Tuesdays. Visit www.theatreguild.orgor call 705-745-4211.

Bea Quarrie is an actor, producer, theatre adjudicator and a freelance reviewer for The Examiner.