The New York Farm Bureau is pushing...
Summer's barely begun and we're already amazingly lucky. The Firehall Theatre at the 1000 Islands Playhouse in Gananoque has opened with another winner. SUMMER OF MY AMAZING LUCK is adapted by playwright Chris Craddock from the novel by Miriam Toews. Canada seems to be a hotbed of terrific playwrights who we should be seeing more of in the States. Wake up, New York!
The play centers around Lucy and her infant son who are presently in a Winnipeg housing project trying to deal with the welfare system. She embarks on a road trip with her friend Lish. In the course of the play Lucy begins to regain her confidence and control of her life. Meanwhile she comes out with pithy and funny comments such as, "Her lust interfered with her passion."
Three very talented actors make up the cast. Lisa Norton is excellent as Lish, Lucy's best friend, as is Mark McGrinder as Lucy's father. It doesn't stop there though, since these two actors also portray the other 44 characters in the play with remarkable skill and versatility. At one point Mr. McGrinder even does an amazing horizontal fall from a balcony.
Haley McGee makes a wonderful Lucy. The multifaceted character is by turns funny, fierce and vulnerable. Even the way she handles her infant son is believable. Miss McGee never seemed to be "acting". As my companion said, "Lucy just IS."
Elizabeth Nutting's kitchen set has extended exterior walls with two doors that cleverly provide additional entrances as well as space for imaginary locations. I'm not describing it well but it works, especially with Adair Redish's excellent lighting, not only of reality but of shadows. Miss Nutting's costumes are clever, especially the small pieces that delineate all the minor characters.
Brian Frommer's sound design is also very good. I assume some of the choices were made in collaboration with the director. In any case, a couple of the music choices tickled my always over-active funny bone. Stage Manager Isabelle Ly calls this complex show with nary a slip.
This is the third piece I've seen directed by Jennifer Brewin. Her work is always inventive, unusual and intensely human with a subtle humorous touch. She's clarified this sprawling story that portrays not only reality, but also memories and fantasies. Miss Brewin is dealing with tricky stuff. She's come up with some terrific solutions such as using shadow effects and a new way of bleeping language. George Carlin would have loved it! She keeps the pace brisk, but allows the play to breathe during Lucy's more intimate moments.
Even in the midst of comedic mayhem the production never loses track of the play's humanity. I got so caught up in it I stopped taking notes. I didn't need a note for the following line - it stuck. "Women always apologize when it rains at a picnic."
On a scale of one to five the Firehall Theatre production at the 1000 Islands Playhouse of SUMMER OF MY AMAZING LUCK gets five dalmations. For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.