Fishing, beer, cheesies, and girls: a weekend at the cottage is looking good to Owen Melville. To his older brother Lee, who has a more sober retreat in mind, Owen’s intentions spell disaster. So begins the South Okanagan Amateur Players’ spring comedy, The Melville Boys by Norm Foster.
Foster, Canada’s answer to Neil Simon, writes richly nuanced, believable characters and natural dialogue. New director Nathan Linders appreciates one of the consequences of a strong script: “I couldn’t believe everyone was off-script in less than a month of rehearsing. This is such a strong cast.” While Linders keeps a steady hand on the reins of this production, he is assisted by Diane Gludovatz who has a keen eye for onstage funny business.
With an easy drawl and cheeky attitude, newcomer Brohm Dason brings beer-swilling Owen to life. Dason’s film school and stage musical experience aids his performance, as he cuts the comedy with an undercurrent of pathos. Dason hints there may be more to Owen’s party persona than first meets the eye.
Playing Lee Melville, the responsible older brother, is Craig Bjornson. SOAP audiences will remember Bjornson’s comic timing in another Foster play, The Long Weekend. A master of the comic pause, Bjornson wrings both humour and poignancy from his character.
Despite his brother’s protests, Owen attracts the attention of two sisters, Mary and Loretta, boating on the lake, and the foursome spend an evening together. With Lee contentedly married and Owen heading to the altar, their awkward socializing becomes the source of much of the play’s comedy.
Robin Stille (last onstage in Lend Me a Tenor) plays sensible Mary, impatient with her younger sister`s flirtatious nature. Jilted by her husband, Mary is simply “getting by” emotionally. She confides in Lee, who reciprocates with a surprising revelation of his own. Mary and Lee share an emotionally charged scene which is one of the show’s comic highlights.
New to the stage but a natural comedienne, Sarah Williams plays the flighty Loretta. Williams brings a sunny sparkle to the character, snapping off breezy one-liners with ease. Her casual romance with Owen Melville provides a number of slapstick moments. Pictured: Owen (Brohm Dason) flirts with Loretta (Sarah Williams) by trying to guess her weight.
Set designer Tom Szalay pulls out all the stops, bringing to life a Muskoka style cottage, with set décor and painting by Jennifer and Brian Mapplebeck.
The Melville Boys opens Friday April 24 – Saturday April 25 at OSS Theatre (Osoyoos) and continues Friday May 1 and Saturday May 2 at Frank Venables Theatre (Oliver). Curtain 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $18 advance at Sundance Video (Oliver), Your Dollar Store with More (Osoyoos), and Dragon’s Den (Penticton). Available at the door for $20. Info: www.soplayers.ca and soap @ telus.net
Photo Credit: Penelope Johnson