Review by Danny Gaisin
Good theatre should always evoke some kind of reaction from an audience. David King’s 1980 play GARAGE SALE has a premise that became personal a decade later. With the advent of NAFTA I was unceremoniously unemployed and considered moving aboard our sailing vessel and becoming seafaring Nomads. When Terry (the muse) heard the words “We’ll sell everything we don’t need…” she had a fit. End Of Plan. In Garage Sale, ‘Phil Grady’ has the same idea except for heading to the desert for his family’s nomaderie – same response. The Canadian Rep Theatre staged ‘Sale’ in a concert format.
Director Ken Gass also moderates plus recites the mood and background notes, while the professional octet recite their dialogues seated behind music stands. Its a reflection on their thespian talent and method of delivery that the audience soon can visualize the locale and mostly imaginary props.
Grady is bombastically portrayed by Sheldon Davis and his stress, impatience and determination are all identifiable as well as viscerally felt. His dealings with wife ‘Edna’, a self-effacing Melody Johnson and his two teen-aged offspring – Carter H. Perrot & Stephanie Bye. He’s the rebellious ‘Randy’ and his portrayal is a stereotypical ‘ZITS’ from the comics. He even lounges when not standing to deliver some of his ripostes or put-downs. Bye has all the requisite eye-rolling ‘attitude’ that seem to express ‘whatever’ no matter what she’s asked or told. Even has the essential ‘like’ inserted in lieu of other verbs.
There are three neighbours who come either to kvetch or shop. Donna Goodhand is the former and she’s so into her role, that seeing one of her on every street comes automatically. The tire-kickers are Ilene Elkaim & Tony Junor, who may or may NOT be a married couple. Unfortunately, their lines are the play’s fewest and given their talent, something’s a-waste.
The last role is that of David Ferry’s ‘Billy Boyce’ and he’s more than somewhat off-kilter. Wither suffering early dementia, or the onslaught of Alzheimer’s; his mood changes, emotional outbursts and lack of focus makes the character pathetic, and scary to one of my years when these symptoms occur more often than I’d like. Regrettably, his vocal projection is weak and even with cupped ears, I and other audience members missed much of his lines. Speaking down to his script also diminished us oldsters from lip-reading. (Yes, we DO do some of that; along with guessing much of what’s being said to us) Sorry, Terry.
The well-directed timing, and the challenging over-talk moments all require stage experience and this is the impression that is left at curtain. One audience member even asked for a reference contact from one of the portrayed characters. Got a laugh, not a phone number. Sets, lighting, backdrops and props do make a difference, but bottom-line – its the actors that make a play succeed. This format works too. The intimacy of Burlington’s Performance Arts Centre was and is a perfect venue for such a production.