Review by Danny Gaisin
For a Hamiltonian, venturing into Leslieville is an act of empirical courage. The miniscule Red Sandcastle Theatre on Queen St. E. invited us to see a contemporary interpretation of Noel Coward’s only venture into the realm of a ghost story. The plot and concept is still the same; but the approach is an update to current mores and props. Methinks even Coward would approve of Rosemary Doyle’s improvisations. “iBLITHE” had the opening-night audience and yours truly in stitches.
The story line is about a widowered writer arranging a séance as background for a planned novel. His guests are a married gay couple; his 2nd wife and a medium. Result, the writer’s deceased wife’s spirit returns to annoy and irritate him as well as interfere with his new marital relationship.
The crucial role of Charles Condomine, the writer and planner of the evening is David Huband who also directed the play. An experienced professional actor, Huband utilizes facial expression; timing and effective slight hesitancies to explain or emphasize dialogue moments. Being constantly stage-front and dealing with the three other major characters, he meets the test with composure and aplomb. Anyone familiar with the play knows that the meatiest role belongs to the medium, and Margaret Lamarre’s “Mme Arcati” is delightfully ‘weirdiculous (sic) from her means of transportation; hammy emoting, manner of dress to her radically changing mood swings & disposition. She is a constant giggle, even when lying prostrate on the stage.
Wife no. 2 is Maria Syrgiannis and her ‘Ruth’ is just the right amount of possessive female and slightly jealous stereotype of being number two. Our seatmate nearly stopped the on-stage action with his laughter at her being told by Charles that “she’s NOT the dying sort”. It’s a hilarious moment. The deceased wife who obviously was devious; carefree and slightly immoral as a wife is STILL such a woman, even in her afterlife. Every moment she’s observable, Rosemary Doyle is a thespian hoot. Her posturing; moodiness, pouts and expressive sexuality add an ‘R” rating to iBlithe that obviously reflect meticulous direction.
The support couple, of Adrian Proszowski & Robert Keller are portrayed as typecast alpha/omega gay partners. Both give credible portrayals without being politically offensive or denigrating; thus realistic interpretations. “iBLITHE” is at the Red Sandcastle (922 Queen E.) until April 2nd, “MILF LIFE CRISIS” opens April 5th.
Braised cooking utilizes pan searing in an acidic liquid stock; sauté-ed and then cooked. Taste and result is unique- much different than stewing. One block west of the Red Sandcastle is a restaurant called “BRAISED” and was recommended by Ms Doyle as a place for our pre-performance dinner. Super suggestion! Owner Sam (of ‘Lolita’s Lust’ @ Danforth & Logan) and his staff bring a ‘hamische’ atmosphere to this smallish but very Italian-feeling bistro. We had a shrimp entrée with baguettes & home-made hummus that was perfect; then shared a chicken linguini dish… presentation and taste was perfection. Overly-generous servings, underpricing; sizeable wine selection and very family oriented; BRAISED is the kind of place to which we’ll certainly return.