By Chase Hiebert
The students of Company C tackle an animated and wackily emotional piece by American playwright Charles L. Mee in the second offering of CCPA’s 2017/18 season.
I’m a sucker for a holiday show. Sitting with a cup of hot apple cider and waiting for Wintertime to begin, I was ready for a cozily familiar story, standard holiday fare. Instead, I was surprised by two hours of wild laughs, big emotion, and a story with twists and turns that keep veins of humour running throughout the entire evening.
Mee’s play seems at first to be about young lovers Jonathan and Ariel and their interrupted romantic weekend out at Jonathan’s parent’s summer home: both Jonathan’s Mom and Dad also happen to be visiting the house. With their respective lovers. AND everyone expected to have the place to themselves. Just when you think “oh, that’s more than enough to drive the rest of the play,” Bertha the neighbour arrives to announce that Hilda has fallen into the lake and needs rescuing. And that’s just Act One.
Direction Sara-Jeanna Hosie has chosen to expand the ensemble with a musical Greek Chorus. The play’s intermittent references to Greek Theatre makes the inclusion of the chorus a welcome and well-integrated element. Not only do they provide musical accompaniment (often a cappella), the Chorus accents and sometimes creates moments of hilarity, framing dialogue in ensemble scenes with punctuating expressions of exasperation, laughter, and admonition.
The Chorus gives us the feeling that these love stories have all been played out before, but even the ones who have seen it all from the beginning of time enjoy watching the foibles and follies of those in the throes of passion.
Under Hosie’s direction, Mee’s story is propelled forward with aggregating complications that culminate in a hysterically tragic climax, embracing a wildly comic energy and remaining engaging throughout.
A strong ensemble grounds the energetic script, but Vinny Keats as Francois stands out. He embodies the comedic spirit of the play, a spirit grounded in characters who experience big feelings and live them loudly, but still manage to feel real and true and believable.
This is a delightful evening of hilarity with moments of poignance and feeling. With its timeless themes of forgiveness and the complicated love that binds families, Wintertime is the perfect show to kick off the holiday season.
Performances of Wintertime remaining:
and December 1 and December 2 at 2:00 pm and 7:30pm
CCPA Performance Hall, 1701 Elgin Road
Tickets: ccpacanada.com or 250-595-9970