Snappy Dialogue, Sassy People
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
The prolific Canadian playwright Norm Foster has written about 66 plays which are being performed across Canada and around the world. If you think you haven’t seen a Norm Foster play and you go to live-theatre comedies, then you aren’t paying attention.
Screwball Comedy, however, is not your typical Foster romantic comedy. It’s set in 1938 and it mimics the so-called screwball comedies that were in black and white on the big screen in that era. Murder mystery, deceit, and unlikely romance make Foster’s comedy a true screwball.
Screwball Comedy is slightly reminiscent of The Front Page produced on Stratford’s Festival Stage in 2019. The Front Page was written in 1928 with some re-writes for today’s audience, but carried themes and story lines similar to those in Foster’s play.
Plucky little Mary Hayes is laid off from her work as a department store perfumier and wants to take a crack at a new career: a newspaper reporter like her famous sports-writer Grandfather. She applies to Editor Bosco Godfrey who is complaining to his ace reporter, Jeff Kincaid, that his work isn’t up to snuff. Jeff has developed an interest in chasing skirts and drinking booze, and his reporting has gone downhill. Godfrey proposes a contest between the new kid and the young ace to see which can cover the newspaper owner’s son’s wedding best. Godrey’s wise-cracking secretary, Jonesy, helps him send off the two young writers.
As a reporter, Mary has trouble remembering details, but refuses to take notes, even when offered a pencil and a scrap of paper. Jeff is considered the crack reporter, but has a somewhat limited vocabulary, not understanding some of what he hears.
Both head off to cover the wedding at the newspaper owner’s mansion, where they are met by the surly and sarcastic butler, Reginald. The owner, Delores Diddle, has other work in mind. Her son, Chauncy, plans to marry an opportunist named Gloria. Delores, recently widowed, is also engaged to marry a southerner named Peter. The sincerity of the newly betrothed is in question and the young reporters are challenged to find out the truth.
Now I’m sure you are thinking that a roster of nine characters is a lot on the small stage at the Globus Theatre. Fear not! In true screwball style, the characters come and go and never appear all at once. In fact, seven characters are played by Globus’ own Sarah Quick and James Barrett. Half the laughs in this show are created by watching the two of them with their quick costume and accent changes. The other half of the laughs are created by Foster’s flair for witty dialogue.
Quick plays the wise-cracking, cheeky secretary Jonesy, the upper-crust millionaire newspaper owner Delores Diddle, and the potential gold-digger bride-to-be Gloria. Barrett plays the curmudgeonly newspaper editor Godfrey, the snide and snobby butler Reginald, the southern suitor Peter, and the lazy but not-so-stupid son Chauncy. They make all these characters interesting individuals, and have the audience laughing at their 1938 witty repartee. The play is even more fun when you know that Quick and Barrett are a couple in real life!
Not to be outdone, Katherine Cappellacci as Mary and Jack Copland as Jeff are both hilarious as the competing reporters.
Screwball Comedy is just that – a zany play that offers many laugh-out-loud moments brought to life by a talented foursome at Globus Theatre. Norm Foster has made good use of the zippy quips and chippy attitude giving us some 1930s fun.
Screwball Comedy continues at the Globus Theatre, Lakeview Arts Barn near Bobcaygeon, until August 27. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office at 705-738-2037 or 1-800-304-7897 or visit https://www.lakeviewartsbarn.com/globus-current-season
Photos: 1. Sarah Quick as cheeky secretary Jonesy and James Barrett as editor Bosco Godfrey. 2. Katherine Cappellacci as plucky new reporter Mary Hayes and Jack Copland as ace reporter Jeff Kincaid.
By Norm Foster
Directed by James Barrett
Assistant Director Mark Whelan
Performed by Sarah Quick, James Barrett, Katherine Cappellacci, Jack Copland.
Globus Theatre, Lakeview Arts Barn, Bobcaygeon
August 17 to 27, 2022
Reviewed by Mary Alderson