Written by Norm Foster
Directed by Brian McKay
Performed by Melodee Finlay, Mary Long, Ed Sahely, Ralph Small
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
June 14 to July 2, 2005
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Laughing-out-loud at Looking

Playwright Norm Foster has done it again with a great new comedy, as Victoria Playhouse Petrolia stages the world premiere of Looking. Foster was in the audience on opening night at VPP seeing his latest work on the professional stage for the first time. Known as “Canada’s pre-eminent comic playwright”, Foster is the author of such hits as The Melville Boys, Wrong for Each Other, Ethan Claymore, and The Foursome, which was produced at the Grand Theatre in London last January.

Looking will be another hit for Foster, as he keeps the audience laughing out loud with a string of great one-liners. The show opens with two middle-aged divorced men, Matt and Andy, discussing how Andy could meet a woman. Andy is “looking”, and he decides to put an ad in the personal column of the newspaper. Val calls him and they agree to meet at the local pub, “The Private Dick” (lots of obvious gags there). Then Val convinces her friend Nina to go along with her on the blind date, and meet Andy’s friend Matt. Ironically, Matt and Nina fall for each other right away, but Val isn’t too sure about Andy. The two relationships stumble along with plenty of laughs.

All four characters are well cast. Ed Sahely, who was on the hilarious but short-lived improv TV show “This Sitcom: Not to be Repeated”, is excellent as Matt, the radio broadcaster – he doesn’t like the term disc jockey. Ralph Small plays Andy, who can sing the first line to every song from the early 70’s, but gets stumped on the second line. He can’t even remember what comes after “American Woman …….” Medlodee Finlay is Val, who hasn’t had sex since her divorce six years ago – “two more years and I regain my virgin status,” she says. Mary Long plays Nina, a cop, who can get lots of dates, but has difficulties with relationships.

The comparison of the parallel worlds of the men and the women is great comedy. Foster’s clever writing allows the two worlds to meet on stage, and the actors do an excellent job with the dialogue. They all have very good comedic timing, and they frequently have to fill space waiting for the audience’s laughter to subside.

Whether you’re in the dating game or not, you can identify with the situations Foster has created, and the humour lies in the familiarity of the incidents. If you’re looking for some laughs, see Looking.

“Looking” continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until July 2. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or (519) 882-1221 for tickets.


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