by Lynn on July 31, 2015

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the 4th Line Theatre, Millbrook, Ont.

Written by Alex Poch-Golden
Based on the book by Grace Barker
Directed by Kim Blackwell
Original Music by Justin Hiscox
Costume, set and props by Julia Tribe
Sound design by Beau Dixon
Starring: Paul Braunstein
Monica Dottor
Rob Fortin
Matt Gilbert
Mark Hiscox
Ryan Hollyman
Tim Walker
Robert Winslow

A well-written romp of a play about four hapless men who robbed a bank with sad references to the Stanley Cup.

The Story. In 1963 five men robbed the Toronto-Dominion Bank in Havelock, Ontario in broad daylight and made off with $230,000. For the purposes of the play there are only four robbers. What happened to them and their trial gets them the monker, “Bad Luck Bank Robbers.” They are: Jean Claude Lalonde, Yvon Lalonde, Hermyle Lalonde (three brothers) and Roger Martel. They are all French Canadian. Jean Claude is also a Montreal Canadians fan and takes pride in telling the mainly Anglo-Ontario audience in about something called The Stanley Cup which his hockey team has won several years in a row.

The Production. The play takes place in the barnyard and environs of the wonderful 4th Line Theatre Company on the Winslow Farm. The surrounding meadows are perfect hiding places for the gang of four. They lurk in the tall grasses or fall into a hidden pond.

Director Kim Blackwell has assembled one of the strongest casts I’ve ever seen at the venue. As Jean Claude Lalonde, Paul Braunstein is strapping, teasing, irate, cheeky and charming as he rages about some bad luck, or gloats about the success of the Montreal Canadians. Ryan Hollyman plays Roger Martel, a sad-sack of a man who has lost his sweetheart. He is a bit lost and not quite into the throws of bank robbing, but he too has his sweet side. As Yvon Lalonde, Tim Walker is gruff but a pussy-cat. He is always at odds with Jean Claude and meek in the face of Hermyle Lalonde. And finally, Hermyle Lalonde, the brains of the operation is played by Robert Winslow. He is quiet but scowling (he has heart trouble) and is smart and wily.

They are ably joined by Matt Gilbert who plays the defense lawyer, Mr. Mirsky with an easy style and a gentle smirk as he tricks witness after witness. Justin Hiscox plays the Magistrate with a touch of exasperation and efficiency when he’s not playing every musical instrument known to mankind and composing the music. His brother Mark Hiscox plays the prosecuting attorney with confidence. In the small part of the waitress, Monica Dottor creates a picture of a slow, dim woman who makes us laugh, and we try to stifle it out of good manners.

As usual, Blackwell uses the huge space very well and to great advantage in telling the true, funny, sad story.

Comment. Because the playing space is so big, and no microphoning is used actors tend to shout their lines to be heard. I think that since we are there, attentive, they might talk softer and we could listen harder. Or perhaps good sound augmentation (body mics ) might be in order. I have seen how successful they are for Shakespeare in High Park). Or perhaps it’s that the good folks at 4th Line Theatre want to keep it as simple and pure as possible. In any case, The Bad Luck Bank Robbers is a delightful way to spend an early evening in the theatre in magical surroundings.

Produced by The 4th Line Theatre

Run: June 30-Aug 1, 2015
Cast: huge about 30
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes.

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