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The Great Ice Cream Scheme

Review by Chris McGarry

On a particularly hot evening in early July, a large crowd of all ages gathered at the King’s Playhouse in Georgetown to watch the hilariously, sweet, comedic melodrama The Great Ice Cream Scheme.

The setting for the play is somewhere in small-town Canada in the late 1950s. It’s no secret that Pop Sicle’s Ice Cream Parlor serves the best ice cream in town. The respectable, no-nonsense 50s businessman Pop (Owen J.W. Parkhouse), his sister Nana Peel (Elizabeth Parkhouse) as well as his son Robin Baskins (Dalton MacKenzie) are the only three people who know the recipe for this amazingly delicious treat.

On a quiet summer evening, while Pop Sicle, Nana Peel, Robin and teenage employees Candy Sprinkles (Amanda Mullally) and Walt Nutz (Tristan Lewis) are hard at work and loyal customers Etta Lotta Spumoni (Peggy King) and Alec DaSpoon (Melvin Ford) are stuffing their faces with ice cream, the devious, cold-hearted villain I.C. Custard (Marcus King) is cunningly devising a plan to steal the sanctified recipe so he can become rich selling the product all over North America.

Custard recruits the clumsy ex-showgirl Parfait Deluxe (Toby Murphy) to help him carry out his dastardly scheme. While her job is to seduce Robin so that he’ll reveal the recipe, the eager young man has already developed a fondness for the parlor’s newest employee, Marsha Mallow (Annie Bungay).

Later that evening, Parfait manages to get Robin alone on a street bench where she begins hitting on him in a failed attempt to get the recipe. When that plan goes horribly awry, the always scheming Custard plots another ploy: have Parfait act desperate in order to wrangle a job at Pop Sicle’s Ice Cream Parlor where stealing the recipe will be cinch.

A few nights later, Marsha and Robin are enjoying each other’s company in the park. When Marsha goes for a walk, Parfait sneakily seduces Robin. They kiss and she steals the parlor key from him. The goofy, laugh-a-minute play wraps up in the parlor where the good characters engage in the showdown with the villains in an attempt to gain control of the recipe.

Being a melodrama, everything in The Great Ice Cream Scheme is over-exaggerated, in many parts to the point of being downright silly and inane. This, of course, evoked heaps of laughter from the audience.

The actors themselves did a superb job. But in my opinion, the character who stood out the most was I.C. Custard, with his evil though hilarious persona, stone-cold eyes and villianous moustache. A funny addition to the play was the irksome Ann without an E (Bethany Parkhouse) who resembled “Anne of Green Gables.”

A colorful, classic ice cream parlor as a set, 50s-style dress, expressions and good old rock ’n’ roll truly enhanced the atmosphere of the production, which is definitely worth watching for people of all ages, but particularly children.

The Great Ice Cream Scheme was written by Billy St. John and directed by Toby Murphy. It plays on Wednesdays at the King’s Playhouse until the end of August.

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