The Birds and The Bees ~ Playhouse II, 2018

Sexy After Sixty?

Want a fun night out for you and your 60-plus friends?  Go to Playhouse II in Grand Bend where The Birds and The Bees is now on stage.  The laughs come one right after another in this comedy that explains sex for the somewhat older crowd.

I can’t reveal too much of the plot for fear of spoiling it and the many hilarious surprises.  A 60-something woman, who is a beekeeper, has her life disrupted when her 38 year old daughter leaves her husband and their turkey farm and moves back in with Mom.  Mom also deals with a neighbouring farmer, Earl, who rents her land.  And into this comes an annoying but cute University of Guelph student to do research on her bees that are dying off.

Strathroy folks will recognize a tribute to their Turkeyfest, as the characters take part in the final Turkey Days, each reacting differently to the Turkey Days Dance from their different viewpoints.

Playwright Mark Crawford has packed the play with witty dialogue, resulting in many laugh-out-loud moments.  In fact, you can miss the next punch line while you’re still laughing at the last one. Crawford, originally from Glencoe, Ontario has capitalized on his small town upbringing to create comedies that the rural audience loves and recognizes.

Gabrielle Jones is hilarious as Gail, the mother whose life takes a sudden, new turn. Jones plays the jaded woman perfectly – but at the same time, we know there is a good heart under the tough exterior.

Terry Barna is excellent as Earl, the funny, 60-plus farmer who is also skilled in bed.  As he himself says, call Earl if you want your toes to curl!  Barna has a lot of fun with the role, dancing in his jockey briefs and tossing his silver hair.

Stacy Smith plays daughter Sarah, who moves back in with her mother when her marriage crumbles and her life isn’t unfolding as planned.  We feel her frustration having spent her career artificially inseminating turkeys, but is unable to have a baby herself.

Thomas Duplessie is the entomology student who arrives to study bees.  He creates a sweet character with his combination of naivety, innocence and humour.  Together, all four have great onstage chemistry and play off each other very well, building the comedy.

But while the characters are all a little bit crazy, Crawford has made them very recognizable.  We become charmed by them and want the best for each of them.  The fact that they say and do funny things is a bonus.  Credit goes to director Marti Maraden for not going over the top and keeping them familiar.

This is the fourth time I’ve seen The Birds and The Bees: it was performed at both the Blyth Festival and the Port Stanley Festival in 2016, and at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia in 2017.  You might think I wouldn’t laugh as much at this production, having seen it three times before.  Not true:  I still laughed out loud through the whole show.  This is a humour-packed script, well acted with perfect comedic timing.

Note:  If this production has made you a fan of the playwright Mark Crawford, you have the opportunity to see more of his works.  His hilarious The New Canadian Curling Club which has been selling out at the Blyth Festival, has been extended to September 21.  But call right away, it will sell out again.  His Bed and Breakfast is now on stage at Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre until September 2.  And keep an eye out for his other play, Stag and Doe, another hilarious small town story.

The Birds and The Bees continues at Playhouse II, Grand Bend until September 1. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-238-6000 or Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check www.huroncountryplayhouse.com .

Photo: Left:  Terry Barna and Gabrielle Jones as Earl and Gail.  Right: Thomas Duplessie and Stacy Smith as Ben and Sarah.  Photos by Liisa Steinwedel. 

The Birds and The Bees
By Mark Crawford
Directed by Marti Maraden
Performed by Terry Barna, Thomas Duplessie, Gabrielle Jones, Stacy Smith.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
Playhouse II, Grand Bend
August 16 to September 1, 2018
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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