Review: The Golden Anniversaries

by Lynn on July 8, 2024

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at Memorial Hall, Blyth Festival, Blyth, Ont. Playing until August 4, 2024.

Written by Mark Crawford

Directed by Miles Potter

Set by Steve Lucas

Costumes by Amanda Wong

Lighting by Nic Vincent

Sound by Lyon Smith

Cast: Janet-Laine Green

Jim Mezon

Prickly, tender and open-hearted.

If Mark Crawford wasn’t such a gifted playwright, he could be a successful cardiologist because his plays and characters are so full of heart, pulsing life, and the delicate balance between good health and disaster.

It’s Glen (Jim Mezon) and Sandy’s (Janet-Laine Green) 50th wedding anniversary. Glen is at their cottage preparing a celebration for them. A tiny wrinkle: Sandy threw Glen out of their house in Toronto a few days before, because after 50 years of contending with Glen, she’s had it. To get her to show up at the cottage, he sent her a text that made it sound as if he was in terrible trouble, ill-health or something equally as drastic. When she arrives and sees that he is healthy and even gleeful she is furious. But she showed up as quickly as she could, so there is ‘something’ there in that relationship. He waits for her to arrive the ‘back way’ as usual, but she arrives another way and catches him unawares.

They bicker, wrangle and dredge up old slights. In all that back and forth, it’s not quite clear why she’s ‘had it with Glen.’ This is not the fault of the playwriting. This might be a clue to something else. Have patience.

 As Sandy, Janet-Laine Green is one feisty presence. She is unwavering in her frustration and anger with Glen. She stands her ground and will not be charmed by Glen’s disarming manner—as Glen, Jim Mezon is totally disarming. Mezon illuminates Glen’s buoyant attitude that she’s there, and determined to cheer her out of her anger. This is a nuanced performance of cheerfulness that never puts down Sandy’s anger. Glen knows he’s done something wrong and he wants to make amends in a way. He tells her of the muddy mess near the drain pipe but she is so angry at him she might have forgotten and storms out towards the mess.

After a change of clothes…….

Glen and Sandy remember—not sure reminisce is the correct word here—their various other anniversaries, starting with the first one when they arrived at this very cottage (a rental at the time)  and there was no reservation in Glen’s name. (They have since bought the cottage). Error upon error happens with great humour. Glen was anxious to ‘begin’ the honeymoon. Sandy was anxious to pee. There were other memories of other anniversaries. There was truth telling —“did you ever cheat during our marriage?” There were neighbours who were attractive with opportunity. Secrets were told and kept. Glen should see someone to check a physical issue but he doesn’t want to. Perhaps so should Sandy.

Mark Crawford has written a funny, subtle, prickly comedy about a marriage that has lasted 50 ‘golden’ years (there is a lovely play on words in the title). There have been ups and downs along the way, but in the long run Glen and Sandy have stayed together out of love and respect, in anger and in concern, in difficulty and in good times. When Glen is being stubborn about something he should attend to, there is Sandy, urging him to get the matter sorted. When Sandy thinks she might be losing ‘herself’, there is Glen saying he will be there for her. All the nuance and subtext are revealed as delicately and carefully as open-heart-surgery and with as much assurance as clasped hands.

Adding his sure and gentle hand to the production is director Miles Potter. The relationships are beautifully established, not over pushed. The performances are also wonderfully nuanced certainly because of the gifted cast, but also because of Potter’s watchfulness.

The Golden Anniversaries is a fine play with a beating heart bursting with life and love. It’s well worth a trip to Blyth.

The Blyth Festival Presents:

Plays until Aug. 4, 2024

Running time: 2 hours (including 1 intermission)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Daniel Liebman July 8, 2024 at 4:52 pm


I saw the play on Saturday and couldn’t agree with you more about this beautifully written play, the exquisite performances, and the well-crafted production. Nuanced is the right word — poignant, but with gentle humour too. You, of course, expressed everything far better than I ever could.


2 Lynn July 8, 2024 at 7:45 pm

Thanks for the lovely compliment, Dan. All the best.