Living a Lifetime on 18 Holes
On a cold January evening, it warms the soul to go into London’s Grand Theatre, see a play set on a sunny golf course, and enjoy some laugh-out-loud comedy. It’s Norm Foster’s latest play – The Ladies Foursome – and it includes Foster’s signature witty repartee along with his poignant moments and food for thought.
Oh, and as soon as I write the above sentence, it’s out of date. Foster has just written a newer play…As Canada’s most prolific (and funniest) playwright, he has written more than 50 plays, and on average, 150 of his plays are produced each year.
While we’re tracking statistics, I have blogged about nine different Foster plays in the past 10 years. On my website, only Shakespeare tops Foster: I have seen 12 Shakespearean plays. In any case, I’m always delighted to see a next-to-new Norm Foster.
It’s worth noting that this is not just a quick re-write of The Foursome, a play about four male golfers. This is an all-new tale, very different from The Foursome, but using the same style golf course set and props.
Like The Foursome, the entire play is performed at tees – 18 times each of the four actors strike the ball, head offstage and back on, then attack an invisible ball again. And like The Foursome, the show is not about golf, it’s about life. We can recognize ourselves in the four women and how they interact.
Three friends are meeting for their usual round of golf, the same as they have for 14 years, but it is the day after their fourth friend’s funeral. She died when she was struck by lightning sitting on top of a Ferris wheel at the fair. There are tears and regrets as Margot (Catherine Fitch), Tate (Ingrid Rae Doucet), and Connie (Sarah Orenstein) talk about their missing friend. But they add a new member to the foursome, Dory (Marci T. House). Dory operates a lodge up north where their late friend, Cathy, had spent two weeks each summer. The other three are quick to point out that she preferred to be called Catherine.
It soon becomes apparent that Dory knows a great deal about the other three, but they know nothing of her from Catherine. It is also obvious that these three women who claim to be Catherine’s friends didn’t know everything about Catherine. Nevertheless they all had fond memories of when Catherine had come to their aid and was there for them.
All four actors bring strength to their roles, and handle both grief and comedy appropriately. Foster never misses a chance to inject humour into the script, but not at the expense of the pervasive sense of loss the women share. At one point Connie asks if she is being insensitive, because she didn’t know she was insensitive. Margot tells her that’s what insensitive means. Each woman’s weakness, not in her golf swing, but in her life, is bared. And then supported as the healing begins.
Having lost a good friend from a group of girlfriends, I feel Foster has given us some very realistic insights into the dynamics of friendship. He also gives us some laughs along the way, and brings warmth to our winter.
The Ladies Foursome continues at the Grand Theatre, London until February 7th. Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593 or visit www.grandtheatre.com.
Photo: Sarah Orenstein (Connie), Marci T. House (Dory), Ingrid Rae Doucet (Tate) Catherine Fitch (Margot) in Norm Foster’s Ladies Foursome. Photo by Claus Andersen.
The Ladies Foursome
By Norm Foster
Performed by Ingrid Rae Doucet, Catherine Fitch, Marci T. House, and Sarah Orenstein.
Grand Theatre, London
January 20 to February 7, 2015
Reviewed by Mary Alderson