by Lynn on March 18, 2024

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at Theatre Orangeville, in Orangeville, Ont. Playing until March 24, 2024.

Written by Krista De Silva

Directed by David Nairn

Set designed by Beckie Morris

Lighting designed by Jeff Johnston Collins

Costumes designed by Alex Amini

Cast: Mark Crawford

Jane Spence

Daniela Vlaskalic

This is a world premiere of a what is billed as a ‘romantic comedy’, but that isn’t the half of it. It’s about hope, love, grieving, making your bed properly and getting out of your pajamas to face the world.

Madeline Holland (Daniela Vlaskalic) is still grieving three years after the death of her novelist husband, Rhys.

Her tough-talking sister-in-law Tammy (Jane Spence) does her best to rouse Madeine out of her lethargy without much success. Then Noah Boyd (Mark Crawford), a ghostwriter hired to complete Rhys’s unfinished novel, arrives from New York and things change.

Rhys wrote a successful series of fantasy novels and one of his fans was Noah, himself a novelist, albeit there has only been one novel. Rhys only left squiggled notes regarding his unfinished novel. Noah’s job is to first be able to read the notes and then put them together to sort out the novel. Madeline is not helpful at first, she’s too emotional in being reminded that Rhys isn’t there. But then things change, as they do, when attractive people are put in close proximity.

Noah is almost reverential when shown to Rhys’ office. Then becomes frustrated when Rhys’ writing seems to be more like hieroglyphs than writing. He is further frustrated when Madeline proves initially to be unhelpful.  

Beckie Morris has designed an efficient and homey kitchen/living-room. There is a couch where Madeline sleeps, or rather in which she falls asleep after a drink or two.  Just off that is Rhys’ properly messy office with a swivel chair, a desk and lots and lots of post-it-notes on a bulletin board, and the requisite number of piles of papers, the order and contents of which only the late Rhys would know about.

Alex Amini’s costumes are comfortable/casual for the three characters who dress for comfort and not to give an impression of anything other than who they are.

Playwright Kristen Da Silva has a lovely light touch with her dialogue and situations. She has a keen sense of comedy. Just the physicality of Madeline still being under the covers, fully dressed on the couch the next morning, is funny in itself. As played by Daniela Vlaskalic, Madeleine is groggy, annoyed at being disturbed by Tammy first thing in the morning, but is ready to defend herself.  

Tammy the sister-in-law is a devotee of motorcycles and rides one with lots of noise as she approaches Madeline’s house. Tammy owns a garage and knows her way around vehicles.  She is matter of fact in her language and outlook and as played by Jane Spence we get the sense of a woman who cares about her sister-in-law but will not let her off the hook in lounging all day. Both Daniela Vlaskalic and Jane Spence toss barbs at each other with ease and finesse so we get the measure of their linguistic abilities and their love and care for each other.

Mark Crawford as Noah brings his own expertise with humour. Initially Madeline believes that she is expecting a person who is renting a cottage on the property. She also knows that a writer is coming from New York. She mistakes this shy man who appears at the door for the renter and not the writer, until she learns that this man is both. The confusion in the identity is handled beautifully by the three accomplished actors. As the relationship between Noah and Madeline changes from frosty to warmer, Da Silva has a poignant bit of business regarding a stuck door and why Madeline is upset when Noah fixes it. This mixes the humour with the still credible mourning.

David Nairn directs the play with his own touches of humour and gentle pacing. The play zips along with these characters maneuvering their way around each other, getting the measure of each other.

By the Light of a Story is sweet, funny and poignant. Just right for the coming of spring/warmer weather/or whatever is thrown our way.

Theatre Orangeville Presents:

Runs until March 24, 2024

Running Time: 90 minutes.

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