The 1000 Islands Playhouse 25th Anniversary Season has opened with a new comedy - Allana Harkin's REAL ESTATE. This is Miss Harkin's first play, and it's a good one. Joel, a newly divorced writer, has put his father's house on the market. Emma, a novice realtor, shows up and decides that not only is the house a fixer-upper, so is Joel. Things get complicated when Estelle, Joel's ex-wife and Ted, her fiancÚ show up.
Designer John Dinning has created a homey living room set with a nice open beam ceiling. This view of the sky provides a perfect canvas for Tim Fort's lighting. Rebekah Vandermolen's costumes are good with an effective color palette. I especially liked Estelle's red suede coat and Joel's ratty bathrobe. The music choices are good, although at the performance I saw, in Act II there was a peculiar segue between Scenes 1 and 2.
As Ted, the fiancÚ, Matthew Gibson gives a rather flat one-note performance. He seems a very unlikely partner for Estelle. Patricia Tedford's Estelle also never quite gets to three dimensional reality.
However the two leading actors, Randy Hughson and Melissa Good, are splendid. I've seen them both in other roles and have always been impressed. Miss Good is a master of listening and responding not only believably, but interestingly. Her comic timing is great, as is Mr. Hughson's. His shout for "Stella", complete with undershirt, is hilariously perfect. They have good chemistry together and their judo scenes prove they also have good athletic ability. Miss Good and Mr. Hughson have created two very real and likable characters.
Director Mo Bock has done a really nice job with REAL ESTATE and keeps the pace brisk without rushing the serious moments. His staging of the reflexology scene is very funny, as is all the physical comedy.
REAL ESTATE has more substance than many comedies. Playwright Harkin has written interesting characters and some nice tender moments into the script. There are even some unexpected plot twists in Act II that add to the humanity of the characters. This play is an auspicious beginning for a summer season.
On a scale of one to five the 1000 Islands Playhouse production of REAL ESTATE gets four and one third fish. For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.