Hud­son theatre de­buts sum­mer sea­son with heart-tug­ging win­ner

Fa­ther son tale filled with laughs, re­morse

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

Men­ding Fences, a play writ­ten by Ca­na­dian fa­vou­rite Norm Fos­ter, is a co­me­dy that looks at the not-so-funny sub­ject of ab­sen­tee pa­ren­ting and co­ming to terms with a past that can not be un­done.

The play, di­rec­ted by Vil­lage Theatre Artistic Di­rec­tor Andrew Johns­ton, be­gins as Har­ry (Bill Ro­wat) gets ready to pick up his grown son Drew (Paul Van Dyck) from a train sta­tion in rural Sas­kat­che­wan.

Har­ry and Drew have not seen each other in 13-years and the last time that they did, a 15 year-old Drew was being dri­ven “back east” af­ter his ci­ty-lo­ving mom Lo­ri (Me­la­nie Doerr) ad­mit­ted that she could not hack it as a far­mer’s wife des­pite her best ef­forts.

Though she beg­ged Har­ry to come with her and Drew, the ta­ci­turn far­mer can’t ima­gine li­ving away from the open fields again, so saying no­thing, he lets the wife and child he loves walk out the door.

It could be the story of ma­ny fa­thers and sons, but the Hud­son Vil­lage Theatre’s sum­mer sea­son ope­ner deals with one dad and his re­la­tion­ship, or lack the­reof, with his now-grown son.

Ma­king up for lost time

Like ma­ny un­com­mu­ni­ca­tive but li­kable men, Har­ry is hel­ped in the emo­tions de­part­ment by his neigh­bour and girl­friend, Gin, al­so played by Doerr (who ad­di­tio­nal­ly takes a turn playing Har­ry’s mom in fla­sh­back scenes).

All th­ree actors draw their au­dience in­to a tale of lost chances, re­morse and soul sear­ching ques­tions as Har­ry tries to find out why Drew got in touch af­ter all these years. Throu­ghout, the story is told with Fos­ter’s tra­de­mark wit, zin­ging one-li­ners and sprink­ling of foul lan­guage and frank talk about sex.

Doerr’s Gin is a rough and tumble girl with a heart of gold, while her por­trayal of Lo­ri, Har­ry’s for­mer wife, is of a sof­ter wo­man clear­ly out of her ele­ment in Sas­ka­toon farm coun­try. With cha­me­leon like ac­ting skill, Doerr trans­forms her­self yet again to por­tray young Har­ry’s mo­ther.

What should be confu­sing to the au­dience is more than be­lie­vable thanks to Doerr’s clear cha­rac­te­ri­za­tions and changes in voice, man­ne­risms and bo­dy lan­guage while playing the th­ree dif­ferent women. Van Dyck and Ro­wat, meanw­hile, strike a ve­ry be­lie­vable note as fa­ther and son and have great on-stage che­mis­try and co­me­dic ti­ming. Van Dyck does a fine job playing young Drew and young Har­ry at dif­ferent times in the play, while Ro­wat al­so take a turn playing his own fa­ther in a fla­sh­back that ex­plains quite a lot.

Des­pite a tou­chy sub­ject mat­ter and a mean­de­ring but cap­ti­va­ting story line, the laugh out-loud co­me­dy is a treat for theatre goers and sets the perfect note for what is sure to be a great pro­fes­sio­nal sum­mer theatre sea­son in Hud­son.

Those who have not made the trip to the lit­tle train sta­tion that was conver­ted in­to an En­glish pro­fes­sio­nal theatre real­ly should. You’ll be glad you did.

Men­ding Fences by Norm Fos­ter will play at the Hud­son Vil­lage Theatre, lo­ca­ted at 28 Wharf Road in Hud­son, un­til Ju­ly 11.

Ma­ti­nee per­for­mances be­gin at 2 p.m. on Wed­nes­days, Thurs­days, Sa­tur­days and Sun­days, while eve­ning shows start at 8 p.m. Thurs­days, Fri­days and Sa­tur­days. For more in­for­ma­tion, call the theatre at 450 458-5361 or email hvt­box@vi­deo­tron.ca

Theatre goers were trea­ted to live mu­sic out­side the char­ming train sta­tion conver­ted to a pro­fes­sio­nal theatre.

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