Foster’s “LOOKING”; a new perspective by WEST 2

Review by Danny Gaisin
                Norm Foster’s comedy/drama about dating and singles’ existence for the over-forty crowd has the ability to touch its audiences; whether personally or through knowledge of ones’ contemporaries. Being Jewish, Terry & I have an ingrained urge to be matchmakers whenever we meet someone unattached. On rare occasions, we’re successful.
In “LOOKING”, four people; two of whom are interested in meeting a potential mate, drag along their best buds for moral support at their first ‘personal-ad’ blind-date

l-r: Lorraine & Michael Quast;Joe Balaz; Deb Dagenais ‘LOOKING’

The daters have no chemical reaction; the other two- an immediate attraction. What follows is obvious but Foster’s smart and quotable comments, plus the interaction of W.E.S.T’s protagonists, make this a fascinating study in human interaction; kismet, and magnetism.
Director Pamela Keyes has chosen to stage the play in a seriously minimal manner. No set, just a few props and rear projected shots of a health club; bar, radio station and two street views. Naturally, the result is total focus on the four characters and their individual attitudes & psyches. A big gamble by Keyes, but Michael Quast; Joe Balaz; Deb Dagenais & Lorraine Quast all are sufficiently talented to make this a new and worthwhile perspective on a familiar work.  The foursome all pitch their lines with comedic phrasing and the necessary pauses to allow audience laughter to die down before follow-up repartee. Their vocal projection is immaculate so Foster’s prose receives it’s deserved due. Peeing & radio are one of the more memorable suggestions that the audience might take home and employ!  Keyes exploits her charges competences in incorporating body language as a verbal adjunct. Whether its Dagenais working out or smiting a punching bag or Lorraine Quast’s sedentary postures, we know what the ladies are feeling & expressing. The contrasting personas of Balaz’ & Michael Quast’s backgrounds, personalities and status are iconic, like Laurel & Hardy; Martin & Lewis or Abbott & Costello. Diametrically opposite, they deliciously play off each other, much to the benefit of their audience.
Costumes are also unsophisticated but the cop-oriented tee-shirts worn by Quast’s ‘Nina’ earn some snickers. As well, the Burlesque-era ‘hook’ received some laughs from those of us old enough to remember its usage to end over-extended comics from the stage!  Opening night at the OCPA was only about 3/4’s full. “LOOKING” deserves a larger audience and it will be running until Sept. 22nd. Call the Oakville Centre or WEST for tickets.

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2 comments

  1. Danny: I was surprised when I didn’t see you at the opening of “Old Love” last night, but then I discovered that you may not have been aware of it! Being a small producer as well as an actor can get hectic and I found that you hadn’t been advised. Its an “Act of Faith” production, directed by Dia Frid and starring Kitty Varley and yours truly. We’re running at WEST in Oakville tonight(Friday), Saturday with a matinee on Sunday. And then Thursday thru Saturday next week. Would be delighted to see you and Tina if you can make it. Just let me know if there’s a night that’s good for you.

    Cheers.

    Vince Carlin

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