By Pat Forrest

At this time of the year, many of us are drawn to stories of hope and redemption (think A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life). Canada’s prolific and most produced playwright Norm Foster has given us another such classic in Ethan Claymore which is playing at Magnus Theatre until December 13.

A struggling egg farmer, Ethan Claymore has been in mourning ever since his cherished wife Jenny died of leukemia five years earlier. But on the anniversary of Jenny’s death, neighbour Douglas McLaren decides to lead Ethan “back to the realm of the living.” How? Douglas recommends a love interest in the person of new schoolteacher Teresa Pike. Ethan wants no part of this, but Douglas is determined and so, we soon find out, is Teresa.

So far, a simple story. Then Martin – the ghost of Ethan’s long-estranged brother who recently dropped dead of a heart attack – arrives and things get a little more complicated.  

Martin needs to set someone on the right path before he will be allowed to continue to wherever he’ll be spending eternity. Operating on skimpy instructions, Martin zeroes in on Ethan and, later, his chickens.  

Over the next few days, Ethan and Martin relive the incident which brought about their estrangement. In flashbacks they see themselves as teenagers and hear their father’s rule for living, “Family and friends are the two most important things in life.”

The show features some familiar faces. Jerry Getty returns as Ethan for his third season at Magnus (Patsy Cline, Completely Hollywood, MacHomer).  He’s joined by other Magnus regulars: Vince Metcalfe as Douglas, and Martin Sims as Martin. Danielle Nicole makes her Magnus debut as Teresa.  

Foster’s trademark light comic touch results in a show that is just what is needed to start the holiday season.