Those hearty souls who courageously navigated Niagara’s slushy streets were rewarded with an energetic performance that took no prisoners (“Leave your husband!”) when dispensing advice, or discussing body parts (John Dillinger’s private revolver—a magnum in its own right) and only occasionally fell flat (“He looked like Robin Hood, but not as gay.” could easily be retired).
As time went hilariously by—given the economically sparse set (a few platforms, some chairs and loads of imagination)—the suitability of this material for a radio play popped into mind. Any takers?
All three cast members were in good form with a slight edge to Thomas Conlin Jones for his wonderfully endearing portrayals of the many children whose unknown fathers drove the plot. Campbell was also at home on both sides of the gender divide playing Dad with a gradually thawing awkwardness that rung especially true. As Lucy, the central character—Queen of Promiscuity and savvy social services client—Renée Iaci demonstrated a great gift for comic timing and an accompanying vulnerability that added much depth to the characterization.
The brief bits of music raided from the standard repertoire (Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus and Albinoni’s Adagio) were mercifully short but far overshadowed by the perfectly inserted electronic bleeps, which were made to cover up Bunny Hutchinson’s—the fictitious Minister of Welfare—expletive filled mouth. Coming on the heels of Junior Minster Helena Guergis’ “fucking” tantrum in Charlottetown, “life imitates art” was true again.
Fun as it is watching the troupe fly through Chris Craddock’s inventive script (based on the novel by Miriam Toews) with the greatest of ease, the grim reality facing young single moms trying to eke out a life and not fall out of Canada’s social safety net is no laughing matter. If only our schools would also realize that it’s just this type of gritty “entertainment” that needs to be seen and discussed by the boys and girls in their charge before they join the ranks of desperate moms and wayward dads. Sure, some of the language is raw, but nothing worse than what our elected officials spit out when they are merely having a bad day. JWR