Review by Danny Gaisin
Theatre Etobicoke’s current offering of “THERE GOES THE BRIDE” isn’t the 1932 absconder tale; its the Ray Cooney/John Chapman comedy about temporary amnesia à la Twain’s “Connecticut Yankee”, or Foster’s recent ‘Gentleman Clothier’ about mental time-travel. In this iteration, it’s her father whose knock on the head manifests itself in a sexy flapper construal of ‘Harvey’; which results in necessitated character exchanges straight out of ‘High Society’. Not quite plagiaristic; but close!
The play was written as farce and director Alex Bodnar obviously wants to emphasize that reality. His cast selection, blocking; and focus all achieve almost constant stints of comedic visual and dialogue, that manifests itself in audience hilarity. The implausible simplistic plot is – Dad gets cranially thumped & meets ‘Polly’ a reincarnation of his planned advertising campaign. Naturally, he’s the only one to actually see her; the rest of the wedding party think he’s bonkers and try to cover the fact from the almost in-laws. Subsequent clouts exacerbate, then redeem, said Pater familias! Wedding bells chime & – curtain.
Under Bodnar’s baton, the cast is particularly physical and frenetic, especially Tyler Brown as the knockee Dad. Routine readers may recall this scribe’s aversion to ‘flounce’ and Brown’s ‘Timothy Westerly’ is in a constant state of flounce. Bias aside, the man is a hoot. In profile, he’s a ‘Bowser’ Bauman look-alike coupled with a strong resemblance to Hirschfeld’s cartoon of Jerry Lewis. By emphasizing the similarity, Bodnar underscores Brown’s comedic contribution.
Choreography with the Gatsby-era phantom is accompanied by Tim’s à capella vocalizing to the pop hits of the period; displaying him as a quadruple-threat: – dancer, singer, actor & comedian. To manifest his shenanigans, Krista Barzso is an epitomic vamp/flapper. Her expressive face and high-wattage smile is both endearing and suggestive. Under another director, she’d be stealing the show but Bodnar has tactfully reined in her potential extroversion.
Westerby’s obviously distraught spouse is portrayed by Nicole Bailey and she never crosses over into hyperbolic enactment regardless of her character’s provocations. Bailey instinctively utilizes posture to underscore her situations and moments of punchline dialogue. Speaking of which, Randy Bridge as her slightly dotty father (Bride’s grandpa), demonstrates the same thespian capability coupled with an innate sense of comedic timing. Cathy O’Toole is his patient but long-suffering spouse and she too has her on-stage moments.
Brown’s business partner is Frank DeFrancesco as ‘Bill Shorter’. His character name gives rise to a clever bit of dialogue unsubtly evocative of the famous Abbott & Costello “Who’s on 1st” shtick. That plus the Brown step-over-ing a recumbent Polly gimmick & mirrored by an inebriated Dr. Drummond (Bridge) are the two stand-out moments.
The two characters with the least stage time are Nadia Moschella as the bride-to-be and Mark Brombacher as her future father-in-law from down-under. Both are terrific and it’s a shame that the audience isn’t given more opportunity to see them work…especially the latter seen only in Act II.
The stage set is cleverly designed (no credit given) and the costumes by Helen Conway are intricate. They are all properly fitted and creatively descriptive of not only the two eras but the financial status of the marital families. I’d swear that Polly’s dress could have come out of my late mother’s closet!
“THERE GOES THE BRIDE” will delay her departure (Think ‘Runaway bride’) until Mar. 29th, and is at Theatre Etobicoke; 1 Col. Samuel Smith Park Dr. CAVEAT – the address is not GPS retrievable so it’s the SE corner of Kipling & Lakeshore Road. Call 416-246-1889 for tickets.