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Adrift

Review by Aldera Chisholm

You have to love any play that involves audience participation. Even more so when that participation comes in the form of dumping water over the actors' heads. For each performance of Adrift, the playwright has requested the role of the "Rainmaker" to be played by an audience member.

Set in the beautiful Victoria Playhouse, Adrift is not your usual romantic comedy. The time is the summer of 1912, soon after the sinking of the Titanic. Island boy Jack Coady (Josh Weale) has returned from the States, where he has made his fortune in Kiwi Fruit. Faye MacLaren (Mia Ingimundson) is his abandoned sweetheart-who isn't willing to simply take up where Jack left off two years before.

Directed by Erskine Smith, the entire production takes place with one set-the rowboat, set adrift in the waters off Launching Point, PEI. Alone in the rowboat, Jack and Faye are forced to confront each other with their feelings which leads to misunderstandings, tears and laughter.

This is a great show-starting with a strong script by Island playwright Lars Davidson. The script is well sprinkled with Island references such as the infamous ghost ship. (Although, I have to admit to being tired of hearing the phase "For Talks Sake" by evenings end.) This show could easily have been a lightly entertaining and forgettable comedy, but Davidson adds balance with character's dark histories, which unfold throughout the performance.

It is the strength of the performers that enables them to move between these dramatic moments and laugh-out-loud comedy. Mia Ingimundson plays the role of Faye with style, showing anger, and suffering with equal heart-she keeps this character from being either maudlin or insufferably cold. Josh Weale does a great comic turn that lightens the load of some of the plays more serious content.

The best part of the show is the way the simple set is used to advantage. Just two actors and a rowboat-and the occasional shark. The set was designed by Jonathan Smith, and it becomes as much a character as Faye or Jack. It is visually appealing, and leaves the primary focus on the relationship unfolding onstage.

As always, the Victoria Playhouse serves as an excellent venue for summer theatre, especially for an intimate performance such as this one. If you are looking for fare that is slightly off-centre, wickedly funny, and all together a good time, set your oars for Adrift. And please do volunteer for the role of the Rainmaker-you won't regret it!

Aldera Chisholm has a day job at Indigo Books. Her nights are her own.

Most Delectable

Anne of Green Gables-The Musical™

Review by Aldera Chisholm

My roommate is "from away" and had not yet seen our Anne. So, with tickets in hand, we set off for the Confed Centre for this year's production of Anne of Green Gables-The Musical. Before the play, we agreed that there are three immutable truths about Anne. Meagan Follows is the one true Anne Shirley. Gilbert will always be the ideal man. And of course, there is nothing more delectable than ice cream.

The most surprising thing about Anne was just how catchy the music is. Just ask my roommate, she has been humming the tunes all week. In fact, if I hear "Ice Cream" one more time, I can't be held responsible for what might happen. (No judge on PEI will convict me.)

Readers of the book will have a very vivid picture of Green Gables in mind, and the bare bones stage concept of Green Gables was ambiguous enough to allow the audience to imprint their own "house of dreams." But I have to ask... what exactly is with those stylized flowers on one of the backdrops? I don't remember what scene played in front of them; I just see their glowing white afterimage that outshone even Anne's dazzling smile.

I think everyone walks into Anne with a preconceived notion of what they expect the characters to be like. In spite of the strong performances from the primary cast members, the so-called minor characters really steal the show-especially Rachel Lynde and Josie Pye. The cast remains true to the spirit of the books and viewers will not be disappointed.

This classic musical still manages to be funny, sweet and touching. It can be easy to underestimate this musical when you are exposed to the great marketing machine that is "Anne." She is like a guilty pleasure-we may put up a show of being coerced, but once in, we remember why we really love Anne. Sitting in that theatre and seeing Matthew's empty rocking chair... I would challenge even the greatest cynic to maintain dry eyes.

So, after seeing Anne, these are the three truths we came away with. Number one: Megan will always be the Anne, but Anne is a bit like Santa-even though you know there can be only one, each mall Santa brings his own bit of magic. I'm sorry Gilbert, but after checking out Dan MacKay in the role of the Minister, I have to say you may have a challenger for first place. And number three? Well, what can I say, now even I am singing the Ice Cream song . . .

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