North Vancouver Community Players
Drinking Alone by Norm Foster

Dates and Venue February 1-2, February 6-9 and February 13-16, 2019, 8pm | The Theatre at Hendry Hall, 815 East 11th Street, North Vancouver

Reviewer Erin Jane

My first experience with North Vancouver Community Players was a memorable one. This small, intimate and dedicated group of theatre lovers is a 100% volunteer organization, and intimate doesn’t just describe the experience but also the venue. The box office is about the size of 3 people standing, with a tiny cash-only bar outside the stage that allows you to order a glass of wine to accompany the play. Hendry Hall, adopted by NVCP as their home since 1972, seats approximately 72 audience members. The stage is nearly as big as the seating area, which was at full capacity fifteen minutes before the show started.

Drinking Alone, a raucous and funny play written by Norm Foster, is a perfectly befitting play for this no-experience-necessary theatre company. Light and comedic with the occasional deeper elements, the Saturday night audience was loving every minute of its 2-hour running time. The stage design emulates a 1995 suburban living room, with dated furniture and leftovers strewn around the kitchen table, brown carpet, ancient encyclopaedias and VHS tapes, and an old Trivial Pursuit game.

I must admit that it took a while to settle into the show, as I felt some of the acting was a bit extravagant at times, but after a while I found the over the top element rather fun and charming. The story begins with a young man, Joe (played by Alex Ross), an awkward self-described loner, who has hired an outgoing escort named Renee (played by the lively Tracy Labrosse) to impress his estranged father Ivan (Barry Walker), who is in town for a night with his new wife Phyllis (Kim Gordon). A surprise visit from Joe’s hard drinking sister, Carrie (played by Mersiha Mušovic) adds further unpredictability to the evening's events.

At first it seems that the father is the story's villain, with his gruff mildly condescending manner. But not everything is as it seems, as the relationship between father and grown-up children is revealed through bits of stories and confessions throughout the night. Barry Walker as the rough-edged Ivan is juxtaposed well with the softer more demure Phyllis. Tracy Labrosse comes on strong but is quite endearing once you get used to her quirky charm. Funniest of all is Mušovic’s noticeable Sarajevian accent, peculiar but chalked up to extra kitschiness and quickly forgotten.

Ultimately, this play got many laughs of appreciation from a very obviously loyal following of local theatre goers, and while not the most sophisticated play ever produced - as Joe says upon meeting Renee - “You’re here, you’re pretty, that’s all I was hoping for.” NVCP is certainly one of a kind, and deserves its loyal following.

© 2019 Erin Jane