by Lynn on March 28, 2022

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at Theatre Orangeville, Orangeville, Ont. Until April 10, 2022.

Created, written and starring Dan Needles and Ian Bell.

I made a pilgrimage to the burgeoning metropolis of Orangeville, Ont. to see the latest production at Theatre Orangeville: More Confessions from the Ninth Concession of humourist/writer/country-dweller, Dan Needles and musician and perceptive lyricist Ian Bell.

Dan Needles is the author of the Wingfield Farm series of comedies about rural-life in Ontario and Ian Bell is a founding performer on the CBC Vinyl Café.

Every patron to the play was welcomed as they approached the theatre by David Nairn, the exuberant, irreverent, charming Artistic Director of the theatre. He thanked everybody for stepping up and showing up masked and vaxxed. He seems to know everybody who attended. A lovely way to feel welcome.

In the theatre on the stage is a backdrop of flats that colourfully create the sense of country living with farm buildings etc. There is a stand holding several stringed instruments, next to that are two stools and a lectern stage left.

Dan Needles is sporty in a casual suit and blue shirt. He often looks bemused.  Ian Bell is casual in a vest, a work shirt and dark pants with a slightly rumpled look that is deliberate. He has an impish glint. Both are hilarious.

Thirty-five years ago Dan Needles moved from ‘the city’ to the country around Collingwood to get away from the rat race. Ian Bell always seems to have lived in small towns.

Being an observer of people Dan Needles observed his neighbours, who seemed to squabble often with each other, or were jealous of each other or plain gossiped. Disagreements were frequent but they all did manage to agree on one thing: they all hated Toronto. The polite people of Orangeville did not guffaw at such an observation. Only one person guffawed with gusto. That would be me. When one lives ‘in the centre of the universe’ it’s good to guffaw. I guffawed often at More Confessions from the Ninth Concession.

Dan Needles told of renovating his old farm house himself. He was told it was haunted; that there were sounds of mysterious scratchings. He found out for himself when he spent the first night in the house.

Needles explained that while he came with money to the country it soon ran out with all the things that sucked the dollars out of his wallet: chores, fixing the house, farm machinery that was not top of the line, theft.

He deals with all these musings in a quiet, thoughtful, self-deprecating way. Every story holds a truth and wise observations.

Ian Bell watched attentively as Needles told his stories. When Bell sang his songs Needles always looked at him, usually smiling. They are a terrific tag team.

Bell’s songs are original and often parodies. “Home on the Range” gives a flavour of the wit and whimsy of his lyrics. His voice is strong and sweet. He plays an assortment of guitars and one banjo.

All in all, it’s a wonderful evening of gentle humour that seems perfect for getting people back to watching plays together, live.

Theatre Orangeville presents:

Plays until April 10, 2022.

Running Time: about two hours including an intermission.

Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.