Playhouse Theatre Company

by Norm Foster

Director Max Reimer  Set Design Pam Johnson Costume Design Patricia Smith Lighting Design Adrian Muir  Stage Manager Caryn Fehr

Dates and Venue 6 March - 10 April  2010 @ 8:00pm | Vancouver Playhouse

Reviewer Jane Penistan

A birthday present for a middle aged man? What on earth do you give him?  Leon (Norm Foster) thinks he has the perfect gift when he presents his friend Bill (Peter Anderson) with the Love List, a questionnaire purchased from a specious gipsy. The 10 most desirable traits in a woman that he lists will produce a magical revelation of Bill’s perfect wife. Bill is astounded and bewildered but Leon believes that his gift will ensure his friend’s future happiness.

With Leon’s encouragement and overbearing assistance the friends argue and write varying suggestions until finally the list is complete. When an unexpected knock at the door is answered, an attractive sophisticated woman is revealed, much to their astonishment. From here on, Bill becomes enchanted with Justine (Cailin Stadnyk). After staying the night she moves in with Bill, much to his delight. Everything in Bills life seems idyllic, but gradually he finds he must become devious if he is to continue to live his life and work as he wishes to, not as Justine organizes it. Leon watches them cynically and with uncertainly.

When Bill returns home one day he finds his bachelor apartment cleaned and tidied with his clutter of references and business data banished to the spare bedroom and his living room neat, clean and flower bedecked. When Leon visits he is surprised and even more mystified and assures Bill that he is being “managed”. When Justine sets off for work Bill and Leon take out the love list and eliminate items from it and replace them with others. Then they discover that Justine vanishes whenever she leaves apartment. Every time the friends change an item on the love list Justine reappears in different mode.

In the end the list is destroyed and Justine??

The set and costumes are totally appropriate, the short scenes blacked out and replaced quickly and noiselessly and music unobtrusive or blaringly loud as occasion demands. The fast pacing necessary for this farce never feels rushed but never flags.

This light and funny play is brilliantly acted, each character being clearly defined in characteristics, body language and movement. The three actors play well together and their timing is impeccable. Justine changes her personality at the speed of light, as the two men change the items on the love list, leaving the audience breathless and delighted.

This is a highly polished, thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable production. A great evening of fun.

© 2010 Jane Penistan