|Kitchener-Waterloo Record.............................The Arts.............................Saturday, July 2, 2005|
|The Love List just crackles with humanity and hilarity|
|Leisa Way and David Nairn in the Lighthouse Festival production of The Love List.|
|by Harry Currie|
Norm Foster's The Love List is one of the funniest plays he's ever written. During opening night at Port Dover's Lighthouse Festival Theatre on Thursday, the shenanigans in The Love List had the audience howling with laughter from start to unpredictable finish.
Leon has taken his old buddy Bill out to dinner to celebrate Bill's 50th birthday. Later, the two of them are sitting in Bill's messy apartment -- newspapers and magazines which he uses in his job as a statistician stacked high in every corner. They're both grumbling about growing older, sagging careers, failed marriage, diminishing appeal to women, and all that middle-age guy-talk.
As a humorous present Leon has bought Bill an appointment with a gypsy who says she can guarantee she'll find a soulmate, but first the seeker must present her with a love list of the 10 most important things they look for in a partner. Coming up with this list is hilarious, especially No. 4 (I can't tell you because there may be children reading), and the arguments back and forth about what to put on that list produce gales of laughter from the audience -- remember, these are two aging, raunchy guys talking. Finally it's done. Leon takes the list, says he'll drop it in to the gypsy, and Bill falls asleep on the couch.
Remember the old saying about being careful what you wish for? There's a loud knocking on the door, Bill awakens, and opens the door to a beautiful blond -- Justine -- who comes in as though she owns the place and has been there countless times, chatting about his work, his hobbies, his dart games and his background as though she's known him for years. Bill thinks Leon has put her up to this, plays along, especially when she wants him to have a bath with her and let his troubles slide away like a pair of silk panties. When Leon arrives the next day and she seems to know all about him and his wife, and gradually the two men begin to realize that Leon is as much in the dark as Bill, then everyone in the audience as well starts to wonder who -- or what -- she is. She's perfect, matches everything they wrote on Bill's love list, but the guys haven't connected her to the list -- that is, until they start to alter the list, and find that every change on the list brings about a change in Justine. When they add sensitive to the list, the laughter raises the roof because of what that does to her. That's all I can tell you for fear of spoiling the surprises, except to say that the hilarity never stops.
Although the play has Foster's usual perceptive comments on the human condition, this is closer to a straight-ahead comedy than anything I've seen by him. This one's played for pure laughs, and he hits dead centre. What made the performance especially interesting was the presence of Foster himself playing Leon, and another veteran actor/director, David Nairn, as Bill. These two couldn't have been better, playing off each other with impeccable timing. The dialogue sparkled from one to the other, and the pace just crackled along. Then in comes the delightful and lovely Leisa Way as Justine. Both the pace and the comedy light up even more brightly, the three of them having this romp on the stage that is so infectious everyone in the audience thinks they're in the play themselves.
So if you want a tonne of laughs, take a drive out to Port Dover, have dinner by the lake (try the pan-fried blackened grouper) and take in The Love List. Full marks to director Chris McHarge. A couple of words of warning: firstly, the play's pretty raunchy in content and language, and secondly, don't you dare make up a love list of your own. Perfection might be pretty hard to live with.