“Welfarewell”, fun-filled; pun-filled holiday in jail 1

Review by Danny GaisinreviewerDGcolor
                    Pamela Delaney is a renowned poet, playwright, pet-lover and judging by her output – a compassionate individual. “WELfarewell” is a satirical and lampooning of the not-so-funny circumstance of the elderly living on insufficient fixed income. Like Swift’s ‘Modest Proposal’ it offers a rhetorical solution – ‘Do a crime…do the time’, albeit with 3-squares a day; semi-comfortable bed and definitely a roof over one’s head. Seriously poor Esmerelda Quipp has just been rejected for a theatrical bit-part; her cat has died and the rent is substantially in arrears.

Lunchtime at Toronto's DON JAIL

Lunchtime at Toronto’s DON JAIL

The lady has chosen food & medicine over the landlord. Arrested for attempting to inter the feline corpse in the back yard, she’s arrested! The incarceration option is thus presented.
The Oakville Players and director Mary Rose present Quipp’s shenanigans in a series of short scenes as she unfortunately avoids detention and thus must amplify her criminal career…all the while enchanting the ‘usual suspects’ as well as the turnkeys and various minions of the legal system, merrily quoting William S. or other playwrights whose roles she previously portrayed. Welfarewell flows a little unevenly meaning that the audience needs continual re-association with the events on-stage. Another problem is weak projection that means the audience misses a large percentage of the clever dialogue and especially the quipps [sic] that pepper the entire play. Hopefully, a repositioning of the actors and an increase of intra-scene crew alacrity will ameliorate these minor flaws.
In the focal role of Quipp, Ruth Smith faultlessly delivers her dialogue and adds more than a modicum of drama to her constant familiar recitations. Both the muse and I found ourselves reciting many of the soliloquy lines along with the actor. Truth be known, we also plead guilty to singing along with the sit-com lyrics played background music. Her well-meaning but exasperated public defender is delightfully portrayed by Hassan Al-Ghareib whose facial expression and meticulously directed body stance underscores his frustration with a client so totally unlike his usual clientele. The jail’s sympathetic ‘screw’ is Linda Morawiec and her mothering of those under her charge is pure empathy if not totally unrealistic. She gives better ‘mothering’ than this scribe gets from my long-suffering Terry-care.
Quipp’s cell-mates are typically stereotypes; the drunk (Lisa Rasanen); the hooker expounded by Katie McGee and Ann Diggle who tied to off her husband. Quite a sorority and their behind-bars banter is worthy of ‘The View’ except we’re not subjected to one-upmanship or raucous talk-overing.  The troublesome landlord is Robert Laszcz and his reading of the character shows continual thwarting by someone his intellectual superior. We kept thinking of ‘Dilbert’ and company every time he was on stage with Smith.
The costumes; body language and sparse sets still manage to represent the status of the protagonists as well as the situations in which they find themselves. Clever lighting heightens audience focus except for some slight delays…no doubt to be corrected by opening. The play is fun even though the message may hit a little below the belt for all of us whose deposit column seems level or just under the withdrawal list. WELfarewell is on-stage at The Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts {Navy & Lakeshore) until Mar. 29th. Call 905-815-2021, and bring along your newfangled I-phone/iPod/smartphone etc. gadget to read the amazing vocal/action playbill! But remember: – shut the damn thing off before curtain.


One comment

  1. Your style is so unique compared to other folks I’ve read stuff from.
    Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark
    this blog.

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