The StarPhoenix Saskatoon
Hilda's Yard funny place to be

Cheryl Jack, Bruce McKay and Angela Kemp in Hilda's Yard. Valley News photo.

That fabulous ’50s plucked-string music at the start of Hilda’s Yard is just perfect. And so is pretty much everything that follows it.

The Norm Foster comedy has found an ideal home at the Station Arts Centre in Rosthern. It’s a play that hearkens back to a simpler time (like the converted train station itself) but doesn’t feel outdated because of its many timeless observations about raising kids and getting along with your spouse.

It’s set in 1956 when everyone wanted a TV, including Sam Fluck who plans to buy one now that the kids have finally moved out. Hilda has concerns about the price ($337.45!) but agrees the two have earned a reward for all those hard years of parenting.

Yup. Things are going to be just about perfect now that ... oh, who’s that climbing over the fence to avoid his bookie after getting fired from his job? It’s Gary. And before that even sinks in, his sister Janey flits back into the nest as well.

A tidy backyard contains the action, a pristeen white fence along the back and yellow house on the side. The second Cheryl Jack as Hilda starts putting laundry on the clothesline you just know the seniors making up most of the audience are judging her on her clothespinning skills. But there’s no faulting that or her performance judging by Wednesday’s matinee. Jack is endearing and funny and convincing, never missing a note in a character of unexpected depth. Bruce McKay as Sam, with his deadpan expression and moments of exasperation, puts a smile on your face that you just can’t remove.

And the cast, well chosen by director Stephen Heatley, just seems to grow and grow. After Gary (Jaron Francis) and Janey (Angela Kemp) arrive, there’s still the bookie Beverley (Matt Josdal) and the girlfriend Bobbie (Shannon Harason) to meet. Everyone contributes something memorable; Francis’ look of pure awe when Bobbie vulgarly threatens to do something particularly nasty to a common foe is precious.

To add some depth to what might otherwise feel like a live sitcom, the playwright introduces some darker elements regarding Janey’s marriage and the way her father initially reacts to the news. It makes you feel quite uncomfortable, for all the right reasons. In the end, of course, most of the obstacles to most of the characters’ future happiness are folded and put away like so much fresh laundry, and everything is right with the world.

Hilda’s Yard runs to July 27 with 8 p.m. shows Tuesday to Saturday and 2 p.m. matinees Wednesdays and Sundays. Box office: 306-232-5332.

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