The Birds and The Bees – Port Stanley

Written on August 18th, 2016

Who Says Rural Life isn’t Exciting?

There is plenty of hilarity for the 60-plus, small town crowd at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre where The Birds and The Bees is now on stage.  The laughs come one right after another in this comedy that covers sex and romance for the somewhat older crowd.

I can’t reveal too much of the plot for fear of spoiling it.  A 60-something woman, who is a beekeeper, has her life disrupted when her 37 year old daughter leaves her husband and their turkey farm and moves back in with Mom.  Mom also deals with an irksome neighbouring farmer who rents her land.  And into this comes an irritating university student to do research on her bees that are dying off.

Strathroy and area folks will recognize a tribute to their Turkeyfest, as the characters react from their different perspectives to the final Turkey Days Dance.  Birds and Bees Port Stanley

Playwright Mark Crawford has packed the show with witty dialogue, resulting in many laugh-out-loud moments.  In fact, you can miss the next punch line while you’re still laughing at the last one. Crawford, originally from Glencoe, Ontario has capitalized on his farm upbringing to create comedies that the rural audience loves and recognizes.  His Stag and Doe was a hit in 2014 and has been produced across the province since then.

Susan JohnstonCollins is hilarious as Gail, the mother whose life takes a new turn.  JohnstonCollins creates laughs with just a withering look.  She plays the jaded woman perfectly – but at the same time, we know there is a good heart under the tough exterior.

Terry Barna is excellent as Earl, the funny, 60-something farmer who is also skilled in bed.  As he himself says, call Earl if you want your toes to curl!

Jane Spence plays daughter Sarah, who moves back in with her mother when her marriage crumbles.  Spence has a wonderful, very natural, realistic style of acting.

Ryan Bommarito is the entomology student who arrives to study bees.  He creates a charming character with his combination of naivety and humour.

Together, the four have great onstage chemistry and play off each other very well to build the comedy. Playwright Crawford has made each character very recognizable.  We become charmed by them and want the best for each of them.  The fact that they say and do funny things is a bonus.

Credit goes to director Simon Joynes for keeping them familiar, giving us lots of laughs and bringing it to a heart-warming conclusion.

The Birds and The Bees continues at Port Stanley Festival Theatre until September 3.  Call the box office at 519-782-4353 or 1-855-782-4353 for tickets or visit www.portstanleytheatre.ca

Photo: Terry Barna as Earl and Susan JohnstonCollins as Gail.  Photo by MG.

The Birds and The Bees
By Mark Crawford
Directed by Simon Joynes
Performed by Terry Barna, Susan JohnstonCollins, Ryan Bommarito, Jane Spence.
Port Stanley Festival Theatre, Port Stanley
August 17 to September 3, 2016
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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