Lies, infidelity and a homeless guy who hears strange messages in the radio waves ó it doesnít sound like good material for a comedy, unless itís in the hands of the iconic comedian and playwright Woody Allen, whose neurotic look at life has been making audiences laugh for decades.
Two one-act plays by Allen, Central Park West and Riverside Drive, is the summer offering from Driftwood Players during the Showcase of the Performing Arts (SOPA) at the Heritage Playhouse later this month.
Central Park West is riddled with one-liners performed by the central character Phyllis (played by Mary Ellen Shimell), a psychiatrist. Has there ever been a Woody Allen play without a shrink in it?
Phyllis has just found out that her husband Sam (Tom Cantley) is in love with another woman. But who is it? She determines that her ex-friend, career shopper Carol (Anna Fairley, last seen in The Man with the Plastic Sandwich) is the mistress and invites her over for a boozy confrontation.
At first Carol is the target of her friendís barbs, but she soon learns to fight back. When Carolís husband Howard (Todd Alain) finally enters the picture, he is subject to the venom of the two women but happily lobs a few choice words of his own. Howard offers the comic relief that returns this play to a farcical romp rather than a sad documentary on dysfunctional couples.
Shimell is new to local productions, but has acting experience with the Port Alberni Players. Lisa Quinn (previously seen in two Coast Community Productions) acts the role of Phyllis on the last Friday and Saturday only. Sophie Ballantyne rounds out the cast for a dramatic ending to this biting play.
Best not take the kids to this one ó these are two adult plays full of risquť jokes and colourful language.
The shorter play, Riverside Drive, goes deeper, says Driftwood director David Short. Psychotic vagrant Fred (played by Stephen Archibald), who channels radio wave messages from the Empire State Building, stalks playwright Jim, who, he believes, has stolen his life story.
Derek and Marilyn Browning play the roles of Jim and Barbara. †
Driftwood Players website, www.driftwoodplayers.ca is posting a Woody Allen trivia quiz, just for fun. Itís surprising how prolific this man has been to movie culture. The theatre troupe will return to the stage in the fall with Norm Fosterís Mending Fences.
The two plays run July 10, 11, 18, 19, 20 and 21 at 8:15 p.m. at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons. Tickets are at Gaiaís Fair Trade, Laedeli and the Sechelt Visitor Centre.
SOPA is a program of 18 performing events, running July 5 to 21, to raise funds for the Heritage Playhouse. More about the showcase is at www.heritageplayhouse.com.†††††