Review by Danny Gaisin
Oakville playwright Kristen Da Silva has written a new play that has already attracted attention. A nominee for 2016’s Pechect Family (Stage West) Comedy Award; it is the aptly named Oakville Players who have the honor of being the first team to put it on the boards. Under the meticulous direction of Angie Fyke; her impeccably selected cast of seven make this a continual giggle with quotable lines too numerous to list. There’s also some very touching and identifiable bits that make GIBSON & SONS hit a personal chord.
Da Silva’s plot deals with a family-run funeral home facing a more modern competitor; and its somewhat reticent scion who has arranged for an on-line mail-order wife from Russia. He’s a short, shy and reserved 28-year old who has grown up in the shadow of an older BMOC brother. When Katya shows up with her older sister, both are attractive; but she’s a long legged blonde bombshell who is a definite ‘10’ on the sexy scale. Somehow her intended’s actual business lost something in translation.
The hopeful groom is Vincent Perri and he possesses the stature and demeanor of his character ‘Harry’. His virile older brother is Michael Anania who is both physically and passionately the opposite of said Harry. The widowed family leader is Chris Reid and he is perfectly cast as the disillusioned head of the firm. The loss of his supportive wife; his new competition, and disappointment in his son’s business acumen is compounded by having number one son earning a living as an orthodontist. Add in a staff member named ‘Becca’ (Sarah Rice) who has a yearning for Harry; Reid’s visiting sister-in-law; and Katya’s street-wise older sibling and the comments; commentaries and observations abound.
The portrayal of Katya requires enough accent to be realistic without being indecipherable; plus, an innate sense of comedic timing and facial expression…Arleigh Curran has these in spades. And those legs! Her observation about taking deep breaths after seeing her first corpse in which she seriously states “she started breathing very young” would sound ridiculous in any other situation. Here it computes. Reid tells his dentist offspring how “he loves Harry like a son”: – obviously, the audience will anticipate the “He is your Son” rejoinder, just as we did. The strong support efforts by Wendy Oughtred as ‘Auntie Jo’ and especially Andrea Papillon’s dynamic interpretation of Katya’s sister ‘Eva’ all contribute that special something that brings cohesion to an on-stage effort.
There are numerous Oakville vignettes as well as pure Canadiana moments. The local ‘shopping news’ type paper gets a mention, as do Celine and ex P.M. Muldoon. So does our national penchant for beer drinking. There is a directorial bit where after some dialogue; Reid hands son Luke a couple of brews for his man-to-man talk with the younger sibling. There are some memorable lines such as a desire for ‘being married with three kids and a Volvo…but no – NOT the Volvo”; and a plaintive reminiscence about ‘back in my awkward years…Hell, I’m STILL in my awkward years” [Editor’s note: your critic has been there and is STILL there]
Visually, there are some superb visual moments that director Fyke disclaims, especially the Act II refurbished Becca sitting down after prancing about in high heels. The descriptive ‘flow-y’ walks are pure eye candy.
We actually apologized to the cast, post-curtain for laughing so hilariously loud during the dress rehearsal, which BTW, went off without a hitch. Bodes well for a super run until Nov. 13th and this is one of those gems folks will regret if they miss the chance to enjoy it…we certainly DID!
Note* There is some road construction affecting access to the Oakville Performing Arts Centre on Navy St. & Lakeshore