Growing into Retirement
Written by Ken Cameron
Directed by Robert More
Performed by Robin Craig and Patric Masurkevitch
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
July 21 to August 8, 2009
Live! On Stage!
Review By Mary Alderson
The concept of retirement does not come easy to most farmers. They’ve said, “Farming is a way of life” so often that to cease farming might mean the end of life. Harvest, a warm comedy now playing at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia, explores one farming couple’s shift to retirement and what it means to their relationship.
Charlotte and Allan have finally decided to sell the farm and move into a condo in the city. A neighbour offers to buy the farm, but doesn’t want the house. The family home is severed from the farm, and Charlotte and Allan put it up for rent. They are thrilled when a nice young pilot is interested in it. They don’t want to be nosy landlords, but they drop by frequently to pick raspberries or check on the koi in the fishpond.
Without giving away the plot – it turns out the nice young pilot isn’t who he seems to be. Charlotte and Allan learn the hard way about a lifestyle very different from theirs, and fortunately, their marriage is strengthened.
Robin Craig as Charlotte and Patric Masurkevitch as Alan are excellent. I must confess that I sometimes cringe when I pick up the playbill and see only two names in the cast – especially since my preference is always the big cast musical. I worry that two people can’t keep up the required energy for an entire show, or that the writing won’t be adequate to support one person playing several roles. My fears have been unfounded twice in the past week: 2 pianos, 4 hands in Grand Bend and this production are both excellent examples of two people playing many parts and keeping the audience well-entertained.
Both Craig and Masurkevitch bring impressive experience to Petrolia’s stage. You may recognize Craig and her distinctive voice from playing Toppy Bailey on CBC’s Wind at my Back, or Spinner’s mother on DeGrassi – The New Generation. Masurkevitch has 28 years experience in theatre, and his bio states that he is still with this “original wife” which may account for his ability to portray the evolution of marriage so well.
Craig and Masurkevitch are excellent at playing many characters: they easily handle the East-European neighbour, the sketchy tenant in sunglasses, the police officer, and the local insurance agent. Comedy is provided when Masurkevitch plays a myriad of church ladies, all wearing different hats. As quickly as Craig could slap a different hat on his head, Masurkevitch changed accents or lisps to suit the hat. On opening night, the audience erupted in spontaneous applause for this hilarious scene.
Canadian playwright Ken Cameron has created a funny and heart-warming story. It’s completely believable – in fact, it is based on his parents’ real-life experience. Cameron grew up on a south-western Ontario farm, and wrote the play so that it can be adapted to any community. In the Petrolia version, we hear about friends down the road in Wyoming and other local place names. Credit goes to Director Robert More for making this a Lambton County story, and finding just the right mix of fun and poignancy.
The delight in Harvest is that it isn’t just meant for farmers. Anyone moving through the various stages of life can easily relate to Charlotte and Allan. It’s a wonderful way for a couple to spend an evening together.
Harvest continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until August 8. 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.