Playwright Plays The Part
The Long Weekend
By Norm Foster
Performed by Norm Foster, Heather Hodgson, David Nairn, and Leisa Way
Directed by Robert More
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
June 10 to June 28, 2008
Live! On Stage!
Review by Mary Alderson
Norm Foster is Canada’s most popular and probably most prolific playwright. He has written more than 30 plays, and is well known for his comedic ability to poke fun at every day life. He is also an actor, and who better than the playwright to take on the lead role?
The Long Weekend is a Norm Foster classic, first performed in 1994. In this latest production at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia, Foster plays Max, the pretentious lawyer, with a love of antiques and jazz music. Along with Foster is an excellent cast of experienced professionals who know how to do comedy.
Max and Wynn (Leisa Way) are about to show off their beautiful new country home to their best friends Roger (David Nairn) and Abby (Heather Hodgson). Except, Norm hates Roger, and although Wynn claims that Abby is her best friend, she is also concerned about the comments Abby will make about her taste in décor.
Soon we learn that Abby and Max are having an affair, and they decide that it’s time to tell the other two. But Abby says she can’t tell Wynn; they are best friends. Both Max and Abby agree that Wynn is a wonderful person and they don’t want to hurt her. Max suggests that they “tell Roger and he can pass it on.”
There are many laughs as this tangled affair gets even more twisted, plus a surprise chortle in the ending.
Norm Foster’s work is well known to theatre goers – audiences have enjoyed The Love List, Looking, Ethan Claymore, The Foursome, Here on the Flight Path, The Affections of May, Dear Santa, Jasper Station, The Last Resort, Wrong for Each Other, Maggie’s Getting Married, and The Melville Boys – to name a few that have been produced in this area in recent years. His characters are just slight exaggerations of people we know, and they give the witty responses that we all wish would roll off our tongues at just the right moment. The play is scattered with double- entrendres, especially in the risqué humour. Foster creates comedy in the dialogue, and a good actor can give the right intonation or the perfectly raised eye-brow to get the laughs.
Naturally, Foster is able to do that himself. His character Max has the deadpan lines, and he tosses off the sarcasm skilfully.
Leisa Way plays his wife, the relationship therapist, perfectly. She can smile at her best friend, while delicately twisting the knife in her back. At the same time, Way makes Wynn vulnerable to Abby’s back-handed attacks. You may remember Way from her portrayal of the various women in Test Drive, the excellent laugh and cry life-cycle story presented at VPP two years ago. Way has had a stellar career in musical theatre, but also proves she is an expert in comedy.
David Nairn, on loan from his position as artistic director of Theatre Orangeville, has flawless comedic timing. As the screenwriter wanna-be with writer’s block, he delivers a line that will garner a laugh, and then gives a look that makes the audience roar. It’s fun to watch Nairn and Way on stage together, knowing that they are a real-life couple.
Heather Hodgson’s take on Abby is reminiscent of Kim Cattrall playing Samantha, which works very well in The Long Weekend, given that it has nearly as much sex as Sex and the City. Hodgson was in Foster’s The Love List at VPP in 2004, and again handles Foster’s smart and sassy dialogue very well.
Enjoy The Long Weekend. It’s a well-written Canadian comedy, with an all-star cast. It would be difficult to find any actors who could perform Norm Foster any better.
The Long Weekend continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until June 28. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or (519) 882-1221 for tickets.
Mary Alderson offers her view of area theatre in this column on a regular basis. As well as being a fan of live theatre, she is a former journalist who is currently employed with the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations.