A Matter of Time

By Robert More
Performed by Ian Downie, David Kirby, Madeline Smart, Meghan Smart, and Helen Taylor.
Directed by Robert More
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
July 24 to August 11, 2007
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Youngest & Oldest Steal the Stage

The special relationship between a grandfather and his 10-year-old granddaughter is the foundation for A Matter of Time, the current play on stage at Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia. A Matter of Time was written by Robert More, VPP’s artistic director, and he directed this production. The show was first staged three years ago at Theatre Orangeville.

It’s always exciting to see the work of Canadian playwrights produced on stage, and this is especially remarkable, since the creator has the opportunity to direct it himself at the theatre where he is the artistic director. More has written an interesting story of family relationships, with a good blend of humour and emotion.

It’s the story of a family with the unfortunate surname Kidney. The father, Ron Kidney (David Kirby) is going off to his stressful office job. Mom Liz Kidney (Helen Taylor) is a busy real estate agent. Daughters Stacy (Madeline Smart) and Olivia (Meghan Smart) are rushing to get ready for school. Grandad (Ian Downie) is just trying to stay out of the way. Like most families they are way too busy. But out of this chaos, the grandfather and the youngest granddaughter develop a special bond.

At first, the story is slowed down with scenes of family turmoil so typical that they aren’t funny. Everyone rushing around in the morning, trying to get through breakfast and out the door on time, is too realistic to be humourous. Bickering siblings and stressed parents at the dinner table isn’t that funny either.

But then, just in time, the audience is laughing at little Stacy’s hilarious word play. More has had great fun with the vocabulary of a precocious 10 year old. The character uses words like “ovulation” when she means “ovation” and so on. Madeline Smart is indeed a ‘smart’ young actress, as she delivers the lines with perfect comedic timing. It’s a fairly large role for such a young performer, but Madeline handles it with ease. An 11 year old from London, she played Molly in Annie at the Grand Theatre. Audiences will look forward to future performances by this charismatic and clever little girl.

While the youngest character on the stage provides the comedy, the eldest gives us the sentimental scenes, but not without a touch of humour. Ian Downie is excellent as the aging grandpa. He is recognizable as the grandfather in the oatmeal cereal commercial on television, where his son won’t share and tells him he won’t like it. Downie has appeared in a string of other TV ads, so audiences almost feel they know him. Downie’s warm-hearted character continues with that feeling of familiarity. A widower, the grandfather often talks to her late wife, and Downie handles the sad monologues without letting them become maudlin.

Credit goes to Robert More first for creating these two characters with a combination of humour and emotion. He also deserves credit for casting Ian Downie and Madeline Smart, and then directing them, so that they so ably brought them to life.

A Matter of Time continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until August 11. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or (519) 882-1221 for tickets.

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