Ed’s Garage

Written on January 21st, 2012

Ed’s Garage

Ed's Garage

Written by Dan Needles
Directed by Douglas Beattie
Performed by Rod Beattie, Tim Campbell, Adrienne Gould, Douglas E. Hughes.
Grand Theatre, London
January 17 to February 4, 2012
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Advice for Living in Port Petunia

If you leave Walt Wingfield’s farm and drive across Persephone Township, you’ll head straight into Port Petunia and see Ed’s Garage along the lakeshore. At Ed’s Garage, you get much more than an oil change. If you’re lucky, Nick will offer you the Gold Package, where you get an oil change, a check up for your pick up truck, and a check up that will pick you up. Comedy is included with the psychoanalysis at no extra change.

Ed’s a former farmer – thanks to the tough economy, he’s now a garage owner, and faux farmer for income tax purposes. With help from his sidekick, Nick, Ed repairs trucks, tractors, boat motors and anything else that needs fixing, including the residents of Port Petunia. Nick recognizes Ed’s skills in social work, and books appointments accordingly. When Peter, a young man frustrated with municipal red tape loses his temper with the compliance officer, he shows up at Ed’s Garage for anger management training. In fact, his appointment is with the pretty, new psychoanalyst next door, but Ed launches into a session with Peter, because that’s what he does. Comedy results when the citified psychoanalyst is introduced to life in Port Petunia.

By the time the mistaken identity is uncovered, there are other twists in the plot including a re-enactment of the war of 1812. But of course, it all results in a happy ending with the requisite romance.

After seeing Rod Beattie perform in all the Wingfield plays, where he handles so many roles himself, (who else can have a sex change just by raising his eyebrows?), it seems a little odd to see Rod play just one part. At times he is reserved and tentative as Ed, without the gusto we saw in his multi-role shows. Is he trying too hard to not be a Wingfield character? If Ed is indeed the guy that everyone in town comes to for advice, then he needs to show a little more confidence and assertiveness.

Douglas E. Hughes is a delight as Nick – the former municipal official who decided it is better to join Ed than try to beat him. Much of the humour comes from his good natured comments.

Tim Campbell is good as the smitten country boy in need of counselling, while Adrienne Gould as Cassandra, the city girl psychoanalyst, offers the contrast in the city vs. country comedy.

The set is remarkable – the rusty old garage, complete with the handy bulletin board and a map of the town looks just like something you’d see in small town along Lake Huron’s shoreline. The old Evinrude motor with a mind of its own makes one nostalgic for the good old days, and the two Muskoka chairs look very inviting.

Costumes are realistic, except for one comment – Cassandra says she can’t go out into the cow pasture because she’s wearing sandals. Please, those are wedge espadrilles

The dialogue, typical of Dan Needles, is clever and witty. Ed’s therapy techniques are hilarious. His monologue on the menace presented by the big round bale is probably his best moment in the show, garnering spontaneous applause on opening night.

Over all, it has all the humour of the Wingfield play, but it may just take a little time for Beattie and the audience to get used to having others share his stage.

Ed’s Garage continues at the Grand Theatre, London until February 4. Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593 or visit www.grandtheatre.com.

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