by Lynn on March 8, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Park Place Theatre at the Mady Centre, Barrie, Ont.

Written and directed by Alex Poch-Goldin
Scenographer and Props by Claire Hill
Costumes by Holly Lloyd
Lighting by Joseph Patrick
Sound by Andy Trithardt
Cast: David Coomber
Kerry Ann Doherty
Ryan Hollyman
Tennille Read
Andre Sills

A quirky play about the sadness in a marriage when the couple doesn’t talk to each other, given a lively, thoughtful production by the author.

The Story. Lester comes home from work to find his wife Arlene entertaining a man, Peter. She makes it clear that Peter is her lover. It’s not the first time that Arlene has had a lover. Lester is crushed and confused and leaves. He finds himself in a hotel that he has passed often. The hotel is odd. It has an unctuous Bellhop, various women and a man who come on to him, (Lester) and goings on that leave him more confused. He imagines scenarios with the women he meets in the bar. We find out why Arlene dallies. We find out that Lester and Arlene really have not discussed their problems. Will they finally work things out?

The Production. Scenographer, Claire Hill has designed a pristine white set. There is a bank of five doors up at the back. At times doors will be part of the hotel, at other times some will be doors in Lester’s house.

There is a round backed sofa up centre and almost at right angles to that is another white cushy, round backed settee of sorts. They represent furnishings in Lester’s house. When Lester enters through the door stage left, Arlene is sitting on the sofa centre, and Peter is sitting on the settee with a drink in hand.

When the action turns to the hotel, the Bellhop grabs the downstage side of the setter, slides it up to meet the sofa, and voila, you have a round bed in the hotel. The upstage left door through which Lester enters when he is at home, becomes a closet with a top shelf and light on the inside in the hotel scenes. Claire Hill is a brilliant designer in everything I’ve seen her design.

The equally gifted Holly Lloyd has clothed the cast in a smart suit and tie for Lester; various slips for Arlene and a flowing frock for a southern belle he meets in the hotel; a trim-fitting pants and vest for the Bellhop, jeans and a loose top and jockeys for Peter and other appropriate attire for the other male characters; a stunning form-fitting green dress for one of the women Lester meets in the hotel bar. The costumes say so much about the characters who wear them.

This time around, (the play was written several years ago) playwright Alex Poch-Goldin directs his own play. He has a sense of whimsy as he negotiates his cast. The Bellhop—a wiry, glib David Coomber—appears from behind the sofa by putting his hands up and over the back of it, with a Cheshire cat smile when he appears.

The cast are accomplished in their work. Kerry Ann Doherty as Arlene, Lester’s wife, has a sadness mixed with a simmering anger regarding Lester. She’s hurt by his lack of communication and his letting her get away with her infidelity. Doherty also plays Estelle, the soft-spoken southern belle who says she is waiting for someone at the hotel.

Tennille Read plays Antoinette, a mysterious woman with allure in that gorgeous green dress. She also plays Louise, a sweet, kind French maid who tries to help Lester with his confusion and distress.

Playing a variety of men in varying stages of undress, including Peter the confident lover, Ander Sills has presence, a swagger when staring down Lester, a dangerous attitude when challenging Arlene who wants him to leave, and a touching insecurity when playing a shy man in the bar.

But the whole play rests on Lester, a man who is lost, confused, hurt and unsettled at what he is imagining that is going on in that hotel. Lester is beautifully played by Ryan Hollyman—at times breathless with anxiety, frightened with every squeak and thud in that hotel (thanks to Andy Trithardt’s sound scape), and generally in an extremely emotional place as he tries to find his bearings. Lester is in a ‘twilight zone’ and Hollyman realizes this in his terrific performance.

Comment.Playwright Alex Poch-Goldin looks at the world of infidelity, marital miscommunication, loneliness, fantasy, and sexual politics in This Hotel. He does it by mixing whimsy and eeriness Once again Talk is Free Theatre programs an intriguing play done beautifully.

Talk is Free Theatre Presents:

First Performance: March 4, 2016.
Closes: March 12, 2016.
Cast: 5; 3 men, 2 women.
Running Time: 90 minutes.

Leave a Comment