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Review by Sean McQuaid  

Performed & Written by
Sherri-Lee Pike (Stephanie) 

Directed by
Alison Hart (also script editor)

Supported by
Brandon Roy (voice-overs/music director/voice coach), Adam MacGregor (lead guitarist) 

The Story
Repeatedly heartbroken romantic Stephanie reflects on life in general and her love life in particular as she prepares to celebrate her 40th birthday. Playwright/star Pike developed the play after consulting a focus group of friends about their own real-life experiences circa age 40. 

The Performance
More or less the one-woman show it's billed as, Ht40 features only Pike on stage, though offstage collaborators contribute extensive voice-over work (much of it in dialogue with Pike) and lead guitar for Pike's musical numbers as she alternately chats and sings her way through assorted anecdotes and life lessons. McGregor adds a lot with his versatile, oft-entertaining voice work, though his child roles work a bit less well than his adult bits. 

Best Thing
The undisputed, undiluted star of this show, Pike–as–performer is also the best thing about the play: lively, funny, genuine, playful and charming, she is entertainingly watchable and likable throughout. She exudes the incandescent positive energy of an older Anne of Green Gables, making it both appropriate and slightly surreal that portions of the Guild’s Anne & Gilbert set remain visible during Pike’s show.  

Shortcoming
The anecdotal/anthology format almost inevitably means some segments work better than others, and portions of the show feel repetitive in terms of hitting the same Cathy-esque beats about finding a man. 

Final Thoughts
Pike’s script may feel familiar in spots, but an appealing, polished performer keeps it interesting and makes it fun to watch. It’s also a well-produced show with well-designed set & props, notably a distinctive birthday cake that serves as memorable promotional imagery, portentous set dressing and, eventually, a dramatic payoff of sorts — Chekhov’s cake, if you will. Good theatre no matter how you slice it…

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