Review by Terry Gaisin
Prolific (52 & counting) Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s “BEDTIME STORIES” is a challenge not only for a director, but for audiences as well, given that format and plot lines are so contrived and web-like in coherency that concentration is highly mandated.
The six vignettes are totally diverse yet intermingled via a radio broadcast and by familial relationships. Personas that we meet prove to be someone mentioned, referred to or a character seen in a previous sketch. Foster does not telegraph these contrivances; thus the needed engrossment in order for the viewer to stay cognizant.
Binbrook Little Theatre is more than just a community effort…it’s a family affair as perusal of the repetitious surnames in the crew listings demonstrate.. Even director Adam Harrison is registered as wearing six hats. But as Truman once stated “The buck stops here” so it’s to the director’s province that my emphasis must be targeted. He’s done a superlative job. The timing; blocking; emphases and especially the cast selection is faultless. Harrison also demonstrates a knack for the on-stage minutiae that can usually enhance a scene.
The opening skit has an ambitious radio jock presenting a live late-night sex act on-air. Tristan Theberge is an XXXL giant with a funny haircut who ends up manipulated by his enlistees.
Both Sam Pennisi and especially Valerie Ballantyne are not only a credible couple, they’re super-cute. The dialogue, hesitancies, and even anticipations are all realistically presented. Surprisingly, there is a morality about the entire episode.
Scene two deals with a terminally ill JohnThompson being visited by a almost girlfriend from 2 decades previous. Obviously under duress, it seems that Ashley Brenzil’s ‘Susan’ had treated him egregiously on and after their one date. The agitation she feels is tangible. Thompson understates his repartee ‘zingers’ as well as extending the pauses before replies, but it is Brenzil whose portrayal stands out. Her facial expressions almost give away what her monologue or rebuttal are about to espouse.
The next scene gives the audience a hilarious view of B& E at it’s intellectual worst. Mark Rogers and Greg Brenzil are the most unlikely team of crooks. Their rationales for the deed and the things they can’t seem to realize or anticipate make this writer wish it had been them who broke into our house a few years back.
Post intermission, Troy Smillie is a aging rocker whose room is invaded by a teenage fan who wants to add his name to her conquest list. Gina Montani is pure delight as the young vamp and her romping, threats seem to negate a surprising naivete when confronted with reality. Smillie pulls back the on-stage persona of make-up and manner that appeals to a fan base. Both are a well-matched team and the give & take constantly reflects this. Again, there is a morality about the story.
A change of pace brings Marc Brenzil and Michaela Hallok as a strip club owner and his klutzy dancer. She’s also a little light-headed cerebrally and her difficulty in grasping the rationale for this post-performance meeting is a constant hoot. Hopefully, Hallok’s pratfalls are all perfectly choreographed!. The last segment brings a scary Rachel Wade’s involvement with her two movers played by Kristopher Urech & Paul Marshall. Her emotional outbursts at these poor & uninvolved recipients will touch home with every audience member who has suffered a ‘stand-by’ while s*#t happens because of others. All three manage to handle themselves without resorting to hamminess. Yolanda is the route & location-challenged cabbie played by Andrea Chrysler.
We thoroughly enjoyed each segment and our own moods reflected what Adam Harrison was trying to interpret on stage. He and the team have succeeded. The play runs until May 8th.