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Margo MacDonald as Loretta and Mary Ellis as Frances.  Photo: Andrew Alexander/GCTC
Margo MacDonald as Loretta and Mary Ellis as Frances. Photo: Andrew Alexander/GCTC

Theatre Review: "Fly Me to the Moon" at the Great Canadian Theatre Company

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The Canadian premiere of "Fly Me to the Moon" is running at the Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa through November 18. It's a terrific black comedy by the author of "Stone in His Pockets." It tells the story of one disastrous day in the lives of Frances and Loretta, two home health care workers in Belfast.

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Reported by

Connie Meng
Theatre Critic

FLY ME TO THE MOON by Marie Jones, author of the popular STONES IN HIS POCKETS, is a very funny black comedy.  Frances and Loretta are home care workers in Belfast who take care of the elderly Davy.  Their normal work day takes a sudden turn when they discover that Davy has died in the loo.  Their decision to collect his pension leads to one darkly comedic twist after another.  It finally leads to their realization that they knew almost nothing about him, just that he liked Frank Sinatra and playing the horses.

Frances, beautifully played by Mary Ellis, is the logically thinking instigator of the action.  The nervous and more timid Loretta, equally well-played by Margo MacDonald, doesn’t take long to fall in with Frances’ plan.  Both women are fully drawn and three-dimensional characters, trapped in their day to day struggle for some kind of financial security.  Frances has enormous pride in her son’s successful business – selling boot-leg DVDs.  Loretta constantly worries about her husband Brian, who’s unable to find work and pins his hopes on game shows.

Each moment of decision or indecision leads to consequences and complications that further reveal these women’s lives and characters.  Basically moral people, they can’t resist looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, which culminates in a lovely and poignant resolution.

Sarah Waghorn has designed an impressive set with the bedroom of Davy’s modest home framed upstage by a row of council flats.  Her costumes for the two women are just fine.  David Magladry’s lighting is very good, helping define the women’s brief stretches of narration.

John P. Kelly has done a fine job of directing and staging, especially in moving smoothly in and out of the scenes to the narration.  He and his two fine actors have clearly mined the characters for all their complexities.  This is comedic acting at its best, and with an edge.  The three-dimensional aspects of Frances and Loretta make us care about what happens to them.

FLY ME TO THE MOON provides an evening of solid theatre with plenty of humor and the occasional damp eye.  This second production of the GCTC season lives up to the high standard set by the first.

On a scale of one to five the GCTC production of FLY ME TO THE MOON gets five solar panels.  For North Country Public Radio I’m Connie Meng.

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