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ACT mounts Norm Foster play at Watermark Theatre

Keir Malone takes on a lead role in the ACT production of Nom Foster’s Skin FlickKeir Malone loves a theatrical challenge, whether he’s learning to fence for his role as Laertes in Hamlet—which ACT (a community theatre) mounted in 2015—or figuring out how to present a show to the PEI public with, shall we say, delicate subject matter.

This coming April, ACT will stage Skin Flick, a flirty farce by Canadian playwright Norm Foster, at the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico. The story follows middle-aged couple Daphne and Rollie, who find themselves short on money and on job prospects. When they accidentally rent an X-rated movie, they see an opportunity for some quick cash: make their own adult film! The only problem? Neither of them wants to star in it themselves. But when a down-on-her-luck actress shows up at their door, they see star material. Hilarity ensues.

While Skin Flick is never explicit, it does feature some pretty suggestive language. When I asked Malone how he handles such a potentially delicate topic as porn in community theatre, he admitted that it’s a tricky show to sell, as advertising can be “a double-edged sword.”

“If you don’t admit to the issues with the name and the fairly conservative theatre PEI audience and account for them, you will lose audience. If you are too strong in your warnings that there is mature content, you will lose audience.” His approach? Lean into it by advertising the show as a comedy—and more specifically, as a farce, to let the audience know that the show is first and foremost a comedy.

It doesn’t hurt that Skin Flick was written by prolific Maritime playwright Norm Foster, whose reputation for class and quality precedes him. Malone himself is no stranger to Foster’s work, having performed Sinners last April at the Watermark with the North Shore Players—an experience that left him with a craving for more Foster.

“There is a reason that Norm Foster is Canada’s most produced playwright,” says Malone. “The characters that he pens are accessible, everyday people, though they are often in the midst of insane and unlikely situations.” This is the case for Skin Flick—the protagonists are everyday people, out of a job and out of luck. They just happen to hit on a fairly unconventional solution to their financial woes, and Foster’s comedic genius makes the result nothing short of hysterical.

Aside from the high quality of the material, Malone says he chose to direct Skin Flick mainly because he wants to branch out. As the newly elected ACT Board’s President, he’s looking for ways to broaden the community theatre group’s appeal, and attract a more diverse audience.

“I strongly feel that the way to bring in new people to see ACT plays is for us, as an organization, to offer options. Classics, family-friendly shows, thought-provoking shows with challenging heavier themes, lighter and more comfortable material, even adult comedies—there needs to be a place on our stage for every taste.”

And on the menu this spring? A saucy, sweet comedy with that Foster flourish. If you’d like a taste of what ACT has to offer, come out to the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico. Shows are April 19 to 21 and 26 to 28. Tickets will be available on Ticket Wizard. Check ACT’s Facebook page for upcoming info on the production:

—submitted by Kathryn Nazim

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