by Lynn on July 9, 2024

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Foster Festival, The Mandeville Theatre, Ridley College, St. Catharines, On. Plays until July 14, 2024.

Written by Norm Foster

Directed by Lisa Horner

Set by Beckie Morris

Costumes by Alex Amini

Lighting by Alex Sykes

Cast: Jamie Cavanagh

Dana Fradkin

Heather McGuigan

Tyler Lionel Parr

Those Movies is a sly play in which people you think are bright are not, and those that we are told are lacking, are sharp and intelligent. And of course being a Norm Foster play, it’s very funny and wise.

Those Movies begins with Harry (Tyler Lionel Parr) watching a movie at home, and being totally moved by it. We only hear the wonderful scene between Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in which he says she lives in Beverley Hills and he lives in Notting Hill. (suggesting the distance would be difficult for a relationship and of course that she’s world famous and he’s known on his block). She says that she’s just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her. Ahhhhh ya gotta love Notting Hill (the film). Harry thinks life should be like the movies. He wishes it were.

Harry is a parking lot attendant—sorry, as he says, he’s a Barrier Gate Operator. That definitely sounds more elevated. Harry has a crush on Millie (Heather McGuigan) who is the Barrier Gate Operator at the opposite end of the parking lot. He’s invited her on a date and to his surprise She’s accepted. Millie is coming to Harry’s place first for a drink and snacks. And she’s bringing her visiting cousin Chelsea (Dana Fradkin). Staying with Harry is his friend Patrick (Jamie Cavanagh), whose house is being fumigated. Patrick is unemployed, sarcastic and a bit of a slob. Naturally Harry thinks that Patrick and Chelsea would hit it off so Patrick is expected to go on the date too.

Patrick has this whole scenario, thinking about movies etc, of how he and Chelsea will hit it off but she lives out of town etc. In fact Chelsea is separated from her husband who cheated on her with another woman. It’s painful.

Patrick and Chelsea hit it off but Patrick is not quick enough to tell Chelsea. We learn from Millie, Chelsea’s cousin, that Chelsea is accident prone—she lost a heel in the grate an was hobbled; she drops drinks and food on her clothes; she is the brunt of Millie’s jokes and Chelsea takes it. Millie and Harry hit it off well too. Millie says to Chelsea that she, Millie, hides how smart she is from Harry. Millie was studying to be a psychotherapist. She would have been awful. She’s cruel to her cousin, condescending to Harry but loves to boss him and is clueless about therapy. Harry is besotted by Millie and ignores or is not aware how condescending she is to him.

Harry believes life should be like the movies and can’t understand why Patrick doesn’t.  That’s because Patrick is thoughtful, respectful of those who respect him, self-aware when he erroneously listened to both Harry and Millie about Chelsea and finally sees the light.

Norm Foster shines his comedic light on these four characters and their relationships with each other. He slowly reveals who the decent characters are in the play and how they would make a great couple. He shows how the other two make a couple in which one must run roughshod over the other. Norm Foster finds the humour in the human condition once again.

The acting is fine. Tyler Lionel Parr plays Harry as a fastidious, nervous enthusiastic man. Heather McGuigan as Millie smiles at everybody and subtly drops her condescension and put downs every where she goes. As Patrick, Jamie Cavanagh is laidback, funny and formidable when speaking the truth to Harry and Millie. And he’s sweet to Chelsea when he finally tells her how he feels. Dana Fradkin as Chelsea knows that she is the brunt of the family jokes and takes it. She knows her cousin is mean. And she knows that Patrick is a decent soul.

Those Movies is directed with style and a keen sense of humour by Lisa Horner, who is no stranger to comedy herself, being a wonderful comedic actress in her own right. The play is one of the three plays that make up this year’s Foster Festival. It will be followed by Whit’s End (July 25-Aug4) and The Melville Boys (Aug. 15-25). Worth a visit.

The Foster Festival Presents:

Plays until July 14, 2024

Running time: 2 hours (1 intermission)

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