by Lynn on July 5, 2023

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Stratford Perth Museum, 4275 Huron Road, RR #5, Stratford, Ont. produced by the Here for Now Theatre. Playing until July 15, 2023.

Written by Matt Murray

Directed by Sheila McCarthy

Costumes and set by Monique Lund

Cast: Lauren Bowler

Sara-Jeanne Hosie

Barbara Kozicki Beall

Wild, funny, raucous.

The Story. (The programme says it best, and doesn’t give away hints): “Pam finds an inappropriate letter from her teenage son to his mystery girlfriend, she arrives unannounced at Holly’s house to discuss their children’s relationship. What starts as a pleasant visit, quickly takes a turn. The situation launches into orbit with the arrival of Holly’s filter-less best friend, Cheryl. One lie leads to another, and another, on this outrageous roller coaster ride of misunderstandings.”

The Production. Playwright Matt Murray knows from “funny.” He has written extensively for the Ross Petty Pantomimes, the musicals Grow and Maggie and a host of other projects. In Myth of the Ostrich, he is not only funny, he’s creative, inventive and perceptive. He has written thoughtfully about three women! Imagine that. I guess you can do that quite credibly when you have talent and sensitivity and an imagination.

For this iteration of the summer season of Here for Now Theatre, the audience sits in comfortable seats, under a wonderful protective white tent on the grounds of the Stratford Perth Museum 4275 Huron Road, RR #5, Stratford, Ont. The audience looks out on a vista of lush greenery and past that is a huge field of green.

Designer, Monique Lund has created a set that reflects the life of a writer. Post-it-notes with messages are pasted to Holly’s laptop. There is stuff all around—a tea pot, cups, pencils, paper clips. Stuff. Holly (Sara-Jeanne Hosie) is the writer in question. And she is furious with her slack agent. In her first scene Holly is on the cell phone with the agent and she’s not happy. “SHUT-UP, SHUT-UP, SHUT-UP!” she bellows into the phone.

Is Matt Murray giving an homage to Sara-Jeanne Hosie when she played the villain in Ross Petty’s Pantomimes, with her first lines of “SHUT-UP?”  Sara-Jeanne Hosie is no stranger to funny. In the Ross Petty Pantomimes she would appear on stage as the villain and the audience immediately started to boo her, loudly. She looked at them with contempt, wound up and hurled a “SHUT-UP!!” at them, and then some. I’m going with the homage…

Holly is trying to write. She has just fired her agent. Holly’s day is interrupted by the arrival of Pam (Lauren Bowler) who is prim, proper and concerned about her son and his girlfriend Jody, who she’s never met. She comes over to meet Jody’s mother, Holly.

Pam seems harried with the constant calls from her lawyer-husband Dan who wants to know what she’s doing, where, and what’s for dinner. (lamb). He’s waiting for the verdict in a big case. Holly is also suffering the effects of being off sugar for two weeks.

Holly is also interrupted by her wild friend Cheryl (Barbara Kozicki Beall) who has brought some ‘plant-based’ treats. While nutritionists urge us to eat more plant-based foods, I don’t think they meant the kind of ‘plant-based treats’ Cheryl is bringing. As the best-friend-without-a-filter, Cheryl regals one and all of the sex she just had with her boy-friend; her concern that there seems to be a missing condom that the boyfriend ‘was’ using and now can’t find; and lots of inuendo about the relationship of Pam’s son and Holly’s teenager.

All three actors are masters at comedy. Lauren Bowler as Pam is that uptight, prim woman who is let loose from constraints when she hoovers down one WHOLE plant-based treat, instead of a quarter of it—all that sugar, right? There is a certain finesse needed to carry off appearing woozy-high-excited-enervated-and light-headed because of something you ate. Lauren Bowler as Pam does it beautifully. This is a measured, beautifully paced performance that is very funny. As Cheryl, Barbara Kozicki Beall has that exuberance of an unrestrained spirit, but with nuance and a keen idea of how to float a laugh-line so that it lands perfectly. And as Holly, Sara-Jeanne Hosie both watches and participates in the madness, knowing what is really going on with her teenager and Pam’s son; what’s in the treats; and being sensitive to both friends.  All beautifully done.

Leading them in mayhem is director Sheila McCarthy. Ms McCarthy is no slouch in the humour department either as a gifted actor or director. She knows how to nurture the humour in her dandy cast, coax out every last opportunity for a laugh and make it all seem effortless.

Comment. A wise friend noted that rehearsals for Myth of the Ostrich must have been hilarious if the production is any indication. Terrific play. Wonderful production. See it.

Produced by Here for Now Theatre:

Runs until July 15, 2023.

Running time: 80 minutes.

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