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The Dating Scheme

Review by Chris McGarry

Sally (Veronica Powell) and Peggy (Tanya MacCallum) try to console their best friend Sarah (Jeana MacIsaac) (photo: Chris McGarry)The night I attended the St. Peter’s Courthouse Theatre a large audience had gathered to watch the hilarious, well-acted production The Dating Scheme. The Dating Scheme, directed by Jonah Anderson, is the story of sisters Peggy (Tanya MacCallum) and Sally (Veronica Powell) who learn that their best friend Sarah (Jeana MacIsaac) has just broken up from a committed relationship and is very distraught. One morning, Sarah comes over to the sisters’ house upset and crying erratically. To cheer Sarah up, Peggy and Sally make it known that their brother Tom, who lives away, has a crush on her. He’s set to come home on vacation and the sisters make plans to set Sarah and Tom up on a blind date.

Then Tom (Matthew MacInnis) calls at the last minute with some not-so-wonderful news: due to an emergency at work, he is forced to cancel his flight. Meanwhile, the generally happy-go-lucky Sarah, who frequently runs and lifts weights, is all excited about going on a date with him. All of a sudden Peggy and Sally find themselves in a quite a bit of a bind. They cannot tell Sarah the truth so first they decide to create a diversion. Then they devise, a zany harebrained scheme to find a replacement for Tom which produced side-splitting laughter from the audience. The story culminates in a hilarious, pleasing perhaps a little surprising ending.

The Dating Scheme is an easily relatable comedy that plays with the hilarity of everyday life. It’s an amusing, heartfelt tale of that lengths some people will go to in order to help their friends. Not to give the plot away, but as might be expected, the sisters’ outrageous plot to find a last-minute replacement for Sarah backfires on them. Overall, the spine of this tale that is in some ways a commentary on the ups and downs of life, is very strong.

Jonah Anderson, playwright and director, wrote the script for The Dating Scheme. The characters themselves are unique in their own ways. Early on, the audience gets to know the serious, somewhat humourless Sally. In some respects, she is the polar opposite of Peggy, who is always joking around and has a clownish way about her. Sarah is usually happy though she can be dramatic at times as well. Tom is an extremely polite young man who dresses well and works hard at his job in the corporate world.

In the tradition of many of the productions put on at the historic St. Peter’s Courthouse Theatre, The Dating Scheme has a charming simplicity to it. The small cast of four truly relish their roles. Despite a few slightly off-color innuendos, The Dating Scheme is wonderful family entertainment that features plenty of laughs and great music throughout. Before summer’s end, make sure to take in this brilliant, easygoing comedy.

The Dating Scheme plays at the St. Peter’s Courthouse Theatre every Thursday until August 28. 

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