Talking to the Neighbour Lady
Set in 1956, Hilda’s Yard, now on stage at Playhouse II in Grand Bend, at first seems to be a nostalgic look back at the good old days. There’s the neat back yard, the tin awning over the back porch, and Hilda hanging the wash on the clothesline, talking to the neighbour. It’s all very funny, when suddenly we are reminded that the good old days were never that good.
Sam and Hilda Fluck are thrilled that their adult children have finally moved out – Janey is married to a podiatrist, and Gary has a job in the food industry. Life is good for this couple – they are finally buying a console television for the princely sum of $337.45. But then both kids move back home – Gary has lost his job in the food industry (read pizza delivery) and Janey is leaving her husband. Add to the mix Gary’s unlikely girlfriend who is a beatnik trombone player, and his bookie – a thug chasing Gary to collect on his bad betting debts. There are some interesting twists in the tale, but those can’t be explained for fear of spoiling the plot.
Director Mark DuMez has put together a cast of excellent comedic actors. Patti Allan is perfect as Hilda, trying to launch her family but still looking out for them, discussing her concerns with the neighbour. She doesn’t put up with any nonsense from her kids, either, and it’s that tough exterior that creates the laughs. Brian Linds as Sam Fluck (who, by the way, sees nothing wrong with that surname) is the devoted husband, and not-so-devoted father. Linds shows us how Sam develops over the course of the play.
Alan Kliffer is hilarious as the excitable Gary Fluck and Ella Simon keeps us laughing as the whiney Janey Fluck. Steffi DiDomenicantonio adds to the comedy as the beatnik sax player Bobbi Jakes, while Brad Austin is very entertaining as the very well-spoken bookie and thug Beverly Woytowich.
This script has all the earmarks of a Norm Foster comedy. Canada’s most prolific playwright, Foster has written more than 50 plays. His clever use of language and witty dialogue create great comedy, but Foster also has the knack of taking us down a more serious path, tackling thought provoking concerns, before leading us back to the happy ending. Written in 2014, this is one of Foster’s fresher comedies, despite the fact that it is set in the fifties.
It’s well worth the trip to take the jaunt back in time – we can laugh at the foibles of the day, and be thankful we are no longer living them. This comedy provides laugh-out-loud moments as well as leaving us with some food for thought.
Hilda’s Yard continues with eight shows a week until July 29 at Huron Country Playhouse, Playhouse II, Grand Bend. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-238-6000 or Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check www.huroncountryplayhouse.com
Photo: Janey Fluck (Ella Simon), Beverly the Bookie (Brad Austin), Gary Fluck (Alan Kliffer), Bobbi Jakes (Steffi DiDomenicantonio), Sam Fluck (Brian Linds), Hilda Fluck (Patti Allan) in Hilda’s Yard. Photo by John Sharp.
By Norm Foster
Directed by Mark DuMez
Performed by Patti Allan, Brad Austin, Steffi DiDomenicantonio, Alan Kliffer, Brian Linds, Ella Simon.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
July 14 to 29, 2016
Reviewed by Mary Alderson