Old Love

Another Norm Foster Love Story

Just when you think playwright Norm Foster has covered every kind of love possible, he has another story to tell.  This time it’s a look at the aging process through the lens of rekindled romance. 

Norm Foster is Canada’s most prolific comedy writer. Google tells me he’s written 60 plays now, an incredible number. He is the master of witty banter and his characters are known for their clever comebacks. A quick check of my files shows that I have reviewed or seen 20 different plays he’s written.  

In Old Love, Bud has been carrying a torch for Molly ever since he first met her a lifetime ago, when they were both married to other people.  Years later, he’s now divorced and gets notice of Molly’s husband’s funeral.  He attends the funeral and asks Molly for a date.  Molly looks askance and says “I just buried my husband,” to which Bud replies “That’s why I thought you’d be free for dinner.”  Not surprisingly, she says an emphatic no.  She also has no recollection of ever meeting him. 

But he doesn’t give up.  He continues to pursue her in various situations, while she continues to say no. 

Foster takes us back in time so we can see how Molly and Bud first met and what happened to their spouses.  We also see Molly’s son and daughter-in-law. Old Love is a two person show, so actors Melanie Janzen and Brian Young play Molly and Bud, as well as their former spouses, and even the next generation.  The jumping back and forth through time, while looking at past events from different perspectives, creates a challenge for the two actors. 

Janzen handles the roles of the newly widowed Molly and Bud’s ex-wife Kitty, as well as the aggressive daughter-in-law perfectly.  She capably moves us back and forth through time, and we don’t have to pause to figure out who she is and when. Similarly, Young plays both Bud and Molly’s late husband, Arthur, as well as Arthur’s son, as we get to know the key characters.

There is much more to the plot that I can’t reveal here for fear of spoiling it.  But the witty one-liners are scattered throughout.  Molly calls Bud an optimist, quickly adding “I hate optimists.” 

Then, surprisingly, Molly relents and admits she is interested in Bud.  Here is where Foster seems to have strayed from reality.  The change happens too suddenly to be believable.  As well, the play ends too abruptly. We are left hanging with regards to the future.  Will it work out for them?  Will their sons meet?  The story seems unfinished. 

Despite that final flaw, it’s a fun night out.  I suspect that anyone of a certain age getting back into the dating game would enjoy it immensely.

Final note:  We felt safe and comfortable in the OOH. The seating was distanced in the large auditorium, and everyone wore masks

Old Love continues at the Orillia Opera House in Orillia until September 3.  Tickets are available at the OOH box office at 705-326-8011 or online at https://secure1.tixhub.com/orillia

Photo: Brian Young and Melanie Janzen in Old Love, Orillia Opera House.  Photo by Cole Bennett, Portage Creative.

Old Love
By Norm Foster
Directed by Jesse Collins
Performed by Melanie Janzen and Brian Young
Orillia Opera House, Orillia
August 18 to September 3, 2021
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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