Review by Danny Gaisin
Growing up in Quebec & being a theatre fan, the absurdist comedies of Georges Feydeau were de rigeuer. I had almost forgotten seeing one of his earliest creations – poorly translated as ‘The Ladies’ Dressmaker”, staged by my own University. Theatre Erindale’s take – titled “A STITCH IN TIME” is so superior that I now wish I had braved the vagaries of this ‘solstice horribulus’ and seen the opening night. I would have unqualifiedly recommended it! Photo courtesy of James Smagata
Not only do the major cast members contribute their own imprimatur on their portrayals, but director David Matheson has incorporated and permitted all the definitive characteristics of farce [exaggeration, improbability, extravagance & absurdity] in what kept this scribe in stitches from the opening scene to the final bows. The original may have been created in the early part of ‘the Belle époque’ but slip-on-a-banana slapstick STILL can evoke hysterics… however only if professionally done. Erindale has aced it!
If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery; then Feydeau certainly was a master. Aspects of ‘Stitch’ have been reincarnated in such contemporary works as ‘Hotel Peccadillo’ [doors]; ‘Sinners’ [infidelity]; Boeing, Boeing; [time scheduling] and of course – ‘The Apartment’ [assignation locale]. Putting all of these shenanigans into one stew makes cast demands prodigious and the UTM 3rd & 4th year undergrads are magnificent in both portrayals and execution. Even the occasional dialogue mix-ups were so well handled as to appear mandated.
A married doctor decides to have an affair with one of his patients. Doc’s BBF has inherited a property that includes a bankrupt ladies wear shop… almost perfect spot for an assignation. BUT, the woman’s husband; the shop’s past customers; Doc’s mother-in-law; and their personal agendas all manage to screw-up the intended screwing session. The lanky and impossibly pliant Victor Pokinko possesses a mobile face that reflects; even augments his every emotion. We almost want him to actually manage a sexual home run.
His wife is played by Alex Spyropoulos and her interaction with hubby; butler, and especially her mother, over-stereotyped by Megan O’Kelly cover the emotional gamut. She’s also a stunner! Pokinko’s target is Claire Sherwood and her husband is Mark Palinski. A more unsuited couple is hard to imagine – she’s arm candy; he’s a military ‘Snidely Whiplash’. Both manage to leave a strong impression on the audience.
The ‘Best Friend’ character is named Bassinet; suitable as he (like your scribe) is vertically challenged. Being able to play a bore without boring one’s spectators is a thespian trial and Wes Payne handles it with aplomb. His continual attempts to articulate a certain story become as humorous at the late Bob Hope’s ‘corny joke’ reiterations. Out in the real world he may not get leading-man roles; but I foresee a successful career as a character actor or second banana.
The hinge pin role that unites the convoluted sup-plots is that of the butler. Brian Postalian is a stand-out. Whether being overly lethargic; protective of his employer or overtly homosexual, the guy is a consistent hoot. There is a tongue-length comparison with Palinski that is so well directed as to be a visual pants-wetter. Speaking again of the director, Matheson’s oeuvre is detail , the most subtle gestures; blocking, or physical stance are fraught with meaning.
The costumes are gorgeous; the ladies underthings funny rather than prurient, and both settings augment the mood & ambiance of the on-stage activity. The pace may be frenetic and some dialogue may be missed by the laughter, but this was a 2½ hours of continually being in stitches.