Home is Where the Heart Is
Reviewed by Vicki Stokes
While playwright and actor Murray Furrow was performing in Norm Foster’s My Hero at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre, his new comedic play was being rehearsed. Now that Furrow’s play Our House has opened to a full and enthusiastic audience, he must feel exhilarated. Our House is a very Canadian, funny, contemporary, instant hit.
Rose and Brian, recently retired wife and husband, have not quite yet discovered what to do with themselves this summer. Scheduling every hour of the day isn’t all that fun. Travelling in their RV is too much work and too costly. They bicker too much. But at least now there is Steve, a young, insecure actor the couple take in for the duration of his role in a weird-sounding play. Steve’s parents are famous actors who have starred in Stratford productions, among others. Brian and Rose have an adult son, Paul, a gay man whom they haven’t seen in some time. Rose explains to Steve that they love their son and accept him, though she opens up a little too much about such things as her son being alone, and her not having grandchildren, sentiments she has expressed to Paul in the past.
The couple soon gets to meet the charming Becky, another actor who is not quite as lucky as Steve with her housing arrangements.* When Becky and Steve rehearse together, there is an obvious attraction, but Steve isn’t entirely happy about how it goes. And Rose is a little too angry with Brian following a failed attempt to visit their son. After the men bond over beer and bondage (with a straitjacket from the play), Brian has a much-needed and overdue discussion with his wife.
There is much more to the story though I don’t want to give it away except to say that all is eventually resolved for the retired couple, the unseen son and the young actors. Our House thoughtfully addresses relationships and communication, looks at the woman’s point of view, and offers a safe, loving place – a home – to explore modern problems. It is also an evening of hilarity, perfect for the times. You are welcomed into Rose and Brian’s cozy kitchen and dining room and you laugh right along with them. Fittingly, before the performance and between the scenes, popular home-themed music is played.
The four actors in this play have good chemistry and are very believable as you watch their relationships develop and grow. William Vickers, a member of the Shaw ensemble for over two decades, plays Brian. Rose is played by Viviana Zarrillo in her Port Stanley debut. She is known for her role as Deborah on the Family Channel’s The Next Step, as well as many hilarious characters in live theatre. It was a joy to watch their comedic banter. Steve is played by Ryan Bommarito who is known at Port Stanley Festival Theatre for playing Ben in The Birds and the Bees in 2016. Brittany Kay starred in Bookclub at PSFT in 2018.
Playwright Murray Furrow may be Canada’s next Norm Foster. Our House is funny, and full of acceptance, heart and home.
Our House continues at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre until July 30. Tickets are available at the box office, by calling 519-782-4353, Toll-Free at 1-855-782-453, or online at https://psft.ca/schedule/summer-season/
Photo: Our House written by Murray Furrow starring Viviana Zarrillo as Rose and William Vickers as Brian. Set design by Eric Bunnell and assisted by Haley Helm. Photo by Shutter Studios.
By Murray Furrow
Directed by Simon Joynes
Performed by Ryan Bommarito, Brittany Kay, William Vickers, Viviana Zarrillo
Port Stanley Festival Theatre, Port Stanley, Ontario
July 13 to July 30, 2022
Reviewed by Vicki Stokes
*On a personal note, I had hoped to hear more detail in this play about Becky’s odd billet experiences involving children, cats and allergies. Furrow has said that he always had good experiences but his wife wasn’t as lucky. I have an interest in this because my uncle and aunt billeted actors for the Port Stanley Festival Theatre for twelve years. My uncle, Kelly Cookson, passed away in 2019 but I’m sure he has left quite an impression on the town. Barb Cookson says she loved those years when they lived on Colborne Street and has many wonderful memories. For many weeks they had two actors staying with them at the same time. I asked her if she had any funny stories and one came to mind right away. A certain actress liked to return to the house after an evening performance to relax. The house had a lovely front porch with comfortable furniture and a great view. One evening, Kelly heard a scream and went to investigate. At the front of the house, he witnessed a skunk approaching the actress. Kelly managed to shoo the critter away as the actress flew up the stairs as quickly as she could. Kelly was left to do a search for skunk repellent formulas to put around the front of the porch. The couple and the actress shared a great many laughs after that incident.