The Birds and the Bees
Review by Cassandra Bernard
Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing one of the summer’s most talked about performances, The Birds and the Bees, performed at the Victoria Playhouse in Victoria by the Sea. The story touches on every aspect of “the birds and the bees” in a playful and light-hearted tone.
Though it was a simple set—a view of the upstairs in a farmhouse designed by W. Scott MacConnell—the performance itself was cleverly comical and warm hearted. Directed by Ted Price, the good-natured comedy takes on themes of love, relationships, science and of course, sex. The dialogue begins as a silly and sexual chat but shifts and pulls at the heart strings through a deeper message about love and family.
The play is written by Ontario’s Mark Crawford around a group of small-town folk about to attend the final Turkey Days event. At the play’s start, Sarah (Genevieve Steele), a turkey farmer, has left her husband and shows up at her childhood home to crash for a couple of nights. Her mother, Gail (Martha Irving), has been divorced for 20 years and has recently taken up beekeeping on her farm land. On top of her bee population dropping like flies, she is clearly sexually frustrated but has no desire to discuss it with her daughter. Earl (Wally MacKinnon) is Gail’s neighbour who rents farm land from her and whose ex-wife ran away with Gail’s ex-husband those 20 years earlier. Earl is quite the ladies man who has had his fair share of flings over the years, while Gail has been having a dry spell the whole time. Then there is Ben (Benton Hartley), a stereotypical millennial student, working on the farm collecting data about bee colonies, who is about to learn a lot about sex, with all kinds of strings attached.
On the stage of the historic community hall was a wonderful ensemble of actors. Each actor is worth noting, but standouts of the performance include Martha Irving and Wally MacKinnon who both have undeniable acting chops and impeccable comedic timing. Director Ted Price has put together a hilarious two-hour show with smooth scene transitions, along with a classic playlist of songs between scenes. Although the storyline of the romantic comedy is somewhat predictable, a couple of unexpected plot twists are welcomed. The group of actors does a swell job of showcasing how “the birds and the bees” can be both complicated and mysterious. The results are often charming and thoroughly funny.
I encourage you to treat yourself and go see this production; you will laugh heartily until your cheeks hurt and will continue thinking about the performance for days after. If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the summer into a small-town theatre for some good old dramatic arts, then go out to support this fine production.