Review by Jonathan Stewart
The Charlottetown Festival's production of Forever Plaid is everything a play can and should be. In a time when plays are getting more gimmicky, technical, and flashy to compete with Hollywood, Forever Plaid relies on talent and stage charisma to entertain. It's the story of Smudge (Christian Bellsmith), Sparky (Craig Evans), Frankie (Joe Levesque), and Jinx (Peter McCutcheon) known collectively as the vocal group Forever Plaid. The four were a smalltime band in the 1960s who, on the way to their big break (a performance in an airport lounge), were killed in a car accident. Now due to cosmic powers they have returned to perform the show they never got to do.
The majority of the show is music consisting of the pleasant harmonic music of the early 60s; not rock and roll but songs like "Catch a Falling Star" and "Love is a Many Splendored Thing." The four singers sound marvelous with their voices blending heavenly together. The accompaniment of piano and bass is excellent as well. It's difficult to get across just how entertaining this show is. The laughs are constant with many of the jokes being of a similar nature (base on the naivete and inexperience of the characters) but due to the actor's immense talent and the precise direction not a single gag falls flat. The movement and props are simple but used to the utmost. One of the most amazing numbers I've ever seen is when the four recreate the entire Ed Sullivan show.
The script explores the meaning of innocence and the end of innocence without ever losing its light touch. The characters never grew up and they were too busy singing to experience life. And they died too young to ever become disillusioned. The script does not say that at one time life was better and more pure as other nostalgia-themed plays seem to do. The characters do confront some of the more unpleasant parts of life; however, the attitude they present is more pure, and better. The dark side of living slides off of these characters like water from a duck's back.