Leisa Way and Bill Carr star in the Neptune Theatre
production of Norm Foster’s The Love List.
The perfectly cast show runs until Feb. 11. (TIM
KROCHAK / Staff)
finds perfect match
The Love List meticulously crafted
By ELISSA BARNARD Arts Reporter
It’s no coincidence
that Bill Carr is playing Bill in Norm Foster’s
The Love List.
This Bill is made
for the part of Bill, a 50-year-old paunchy, balding
statistician who believes he is unattractive and unlovable.
Simply put, Carr is adorable as Bill.
He is also in peak
condition as a comic actor, as are the other performers
in this comedy about the impossibility of perfection
and the possibility of love. The physical comedy and
verbal sparring between Bill, his friend Leon and
the "perfect woman" is acting of such intense focus,
skill and passion that the product is flawless.
At one point on
opening night Carr was getting so many laughs he slowed
down the action and extended the moment as Robin Ward
(Leon) struggled — successfully — to maintain
composure. The audience loved it, and it was fun to
see a break in the precise polish and perfect pacing
of the play, directed by Ron Ulrich.
Foster is Canada’s
most-produced playwright. His warm-hearted, small-cast
comedies of everyday life have made perfect summer
fare at Festival Antigonish, but Neptune Theatre has
never produced his work.
Foster has a gift
for depicting ordinary individuals struggling along
in their everyday lives until a collision of characters
and a comic force shakes up everything for a comic
re-ordering of experience and self-knowledge. Foster’s
comedy is neither rapier intellectual wit nor scathing
black humour. It is everyday, lying in the common
failings of all of us and in the sarcastic jockeying
of daily conversation.
In The Love List
the stakes are high — true love. On the occasion
of Bill’s 50th birthday, his best friend, the
rakish novelist Leon, buys him a match-making service
and first gets him to fill out a list of the Top 10
attributes he wants in a woman. An hour after Leon
leaves, the woman arrives, a mystery and, as Leisa
Way portrays her, a dazzling, effervescent character,
with whom Bill falls slowly in love, finally giving
up his inhibitions and workaholic ways to be free
and happy and giving.
In the second act,
the perfection crumbles as Leon and Bill realize who
the perfect creature is and try to change her. Way,
a compelling actor who has played the part of Justine
before, is terrific at the rapid, high-octane changes
in character as The Love List rockets to its conclusion.
This intimate drama
is also about friendship. Bill and Leon are affectionate,
teasing friends and darts champions but as Bill’s
star surges forward, Leon finds he is past it as a
writer, a husband and a ladies’ man. Robin Ward
has all of Leon’s rumpled charm, arrogance,
wit and, finally, vulnerability.
costumes are wonderfully thought-out from the Flaherty’s
Pub dart-league shirts to the lovely orange negligee
Justine wears making her already warm character glow
even hotter. When she puts on giant gold dish washing
gloves she is like the sun, and Bill’s fashion
mistakes of green shirts and tan vests add to the
warmth and colour, while Leon is kept in darker clothes.
Set designer Corey
Mullins has fully realized a wonderfully ageless dwelling
for Bill with its ’70s ranch-style, brick chimney,
late 20th century stainless steel fridge and today’s
design is by Peter Lyne.
hour production of meticulously crafted, light and
delicious entertainment runs at Neptune Theatre until