The Birds and The Bees – VPP 2017

Written on June 6th, 2017

Sexy After Sixty?

Want a fun night out for you and your 60-plus friends?  Go to the Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia where The Birds and The Bees is now on stage.  The laughs come one right after another in this comedy that covers sex and then romance for the somewhat older crowd.

I can’t reveal too much of the plot for fear of spoiling it and the many hilarious surprises.  A 60-something woman, who is a beekeeper, has her life disrupted when her 38 year old daughter leaves her husband and their turkey farm and moves back in with Mom.  Mom also deals with a neighbouring farmer who rents her land.  And into this comes an annoying University of Guelph student to do research on her bees that are dying off.

Strathroy folks will recognize a tribute to their Turkeyfest, as the characters take part in the final Turkey Days, reacting differently to the Turkey Days Dance from their different viewpoints.

Playwright Mark Crawford has packed the play 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 small town upbringing to create comedies that the rural audience loves and recognizes.

Nora McLellan, a brilliant force on stages across Canada, plays Gail, the mother whose life takes a sudden turn.  McLellan is a master of comedy with perfect timing.  Just when you think she can’t be any funnier, she gets enormous laughs with only a look.  We can feel her hurt for her lost love, and understand how she became so jaded.

Patric Masurkevitch, as the neighbour, Earl, is hilarious in his search for no-strings-attached romance, and you come to love him as the story progresses.

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, and you can sincerely understand her situation.

Seth Johnson is the entomology student who arrives to study bees.  He creates a sweet character with his combination of naivety and humour.  Together, all four have great onstage chemistry and play off each other very well, building the comedy.

But while the characters are all a little bit crazy, Crawford has made them 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 David Rogers for not going over the top and keeping them familiar.

Last year, I saw The Birds and The Bees performed at both the Blyth Festival and the Port Stanley Festival, and at year end, I said it was the best comedy of the season.  You might think I wouldn’t laugh as much at this production, having seen it twice before.  Not true:  I still laughed out loud through the whole show.  This is a humour packed script, well-acted with a very funny cast.  What more could you want?

The Birds and The Bees continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until June 17.  Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 for tickets or visit www.thevpp.ca

Photo: Jane Spence as Sarah, Seth Johnson as Ben, Nora McLellan as Gail, and Patric Masurkevitch as Earl. 

The Birds and The Bees
By Mark Crawford
Directed by David Rogers
Performed by Nora McLellan, Patric Masurkevitch, Jane Spence, Seth Johnson.
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
June 3 to 17, 2016
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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