Bed and Breakfast – 2024

The Perfect Pride Play

Reviewed by Mary Alderson

NOTE:  This production of Bed and Breakfast moved to Winnipeg’s venerable Prairie Theatre Exchange this fall, running September 24 to October 6. 

Pride events took over Port Hope this weekend and the Capitol Theatre did its part with a production of Bed and Breakfast, a hilarious, yet touching play featuring a gay couple. While you will have plenty to laugh about, you may also be wiping a few tears.

There are two sources of comedy in this play: first, playwright Mark Crawford’s clever writing and witty comebacks are always good for laughs, and secondly, there are only two actors playing 22 parts. That in itself is crazy funny.

Kyle Golemba plays Brett and Amir Haidar plays Drew, a gay couple living in Toronto. Brett is an interior designer who offers tips on a TV show, while Drew works the front desk in a big Toronto hotel. They are trying to buy a home, but the prices are high and they lose out in the bidding wars.

When Brett’s Aunt Maggie dies suddenly, he inherits her big house in a small town outside of Toronto. (It sounds a lot like Port Hope!) They decide to move in, do some renovations, and open a bed and breakfast. They deal with an assortment of people including Brett’s parents, the building contractor, a coffee shop owner and her partner, Brett’s brother, a neighbour, a couple of teen-aged boys, and of course, various guests at the bed and breakfast. They also face some challenges from nasty homophobes. And just when you think the story is all wrapped up, there is a big surprise revelation.

So, not only is comedy created by the dialogue of the 22 characters in the show, there are also laughs created by the contrast between big city guys and their move to a small town. The difference in life styles is pointed out “where porch swings end and porch couches begin”.  In contrast to the many laugh-out-loud moments, there are heartbreaking disappointments and nasty turns. Offensive homophobic slurs and disgusting hate crimes give the audience a reality check. The disturbing end to act one will have you holding your breath.

But there is great comic relief: the audience laughs loudest for the two actors who have to play 22 parts. Golemba is playing his mother Lynda, the next minute he plays his brother Steve. Later he is a six-year-old girl, enjoying Santa in the parade, and after that a 70-year-old right-wing, evangelical woman. In between, he’s a pregnant café owner and a teen who likes to bake.  Haidar handles the part of Cody, the 18-year-old grumpy nephew, an Irish immigrant, and Carrie, the overzealous, overly friendly real estate agent. It’s especially hilarious when he plays both Travis and Alexa, a drunken, amorous couple on their honeymoon. Haidar is also Doug, the miserable renovations contractor. The two teen-aged characters are hilariously presented with one’s nervous hair tossing and the other’s “I dunno” responses. Both actors cleverly pull off the many roles with just a  change of a mannerism or a slight adjustment to the voice.

The real star of this show is the playwright, Mark Crawford, who is an expert at writing comedies that also pull your heart strings. Crawford wrote Stag and Doe, another show with lots of laughs, which was presented at the Capitol in 2022, and featured Amir Haidar as Brad. Crawford has also written one of my all-time favourites The Birds and the Bees, as well as The New Canadian Curling Club, and Chase the Ace. They are all funny, so watch for them. Opening soon at the Blyth Festival is his newest play, The Golden Anniversaries. Crawford, along with Drew Hayden Taylor and Norm Foster are our triumvirate of Canadian comedy playwrights.

Don’t miss this chance to see Bed and Breakfast. I promise you will laugh out loud, but you will also shed a tear or two. This show will make you think about things that have never crossed your mind before, giving you a new perspective. It will also help you celebrate Pride month, whether you are LGBTQ2IA+ or an ally of the Rainbow Network.

Bed and Breakfast continues at the Capitol Theatre, 20 Queen St., Port Hope until June 30, 2024. Tickets are available at the box office by calling 905-885-1071 or visiting https://capitoltheatre.com/

Photo: Kyle Golemba and Amir Haidar as Brett and Drew in Bed and Breakfast. Photo by Tracey Allison.

Bed and Breakfast
By Mark Crawford
Directed by Rob Kempson
Performed by Kyle Golemba and Amir Haidar
Capitol Theatre, Port Hope
June 14 to 30, 2024
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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