Story By K-L Durant and Photo By Barry Wojciechowski
If Canadian playwright Norm Foster were a type of cheese, he’d be one of the spreadable kinds – easy to use and comfortingly palatable – and those looking for a comparable theatrical experience should consider the veritable feast that is Storm Warning, playing until April 20th at Magnus Theatre.
Set in September of 1953, the action takes place at secluded lakefront cottages, where the principal male character, Jack, has holed up to act as caretaker. Magnus-regular Scott Maudsley plays the reticent, prematurely grey character as an affable, solitary soul, whose tranquil world is turned upside down with the arrival of city-dweller Emma, reminiscent of a whirling dervish and resplendent in Capris and a sunhat.
What unfolds is classic Foster, with the telltale banter between the two affording both laughs and quiet reflection. Debra Hale as the effervescent Emma delivers a strong performance, bringing to life her character’s vulnerabilities amidst the antics. Her commitment to adding dimension to what could easily become caricature means the audience believes in Emma, even when they might question her motives. Scott Maudsley, on the other hand, plays Foster to the hilt; as such, he performs more as comedian than comedic actor, and his lines land in the audience with a deliberate punch. This frequently bodes well for the many moments of levity, but makes acceptance of Jack’s recounts of trials and tribulations less convincing. Viewed as a pair, however, there is clearly an engaging chemistry, and Foster’s explorations of numerous facets of human experience are handled in a highly entertaining manner. This is also due to Mario Crudo’s excellent direction – he allows the actors to move about the space, but with careful precision, ensuring that the natural flow of energy is never interrupted. His attention to keeping the actors on differing levels, too, helps the audience appreciate the physicality of the characters, especially in their more intimate moments. This is facilitated by Doug Robinson’s simplistic and highly effective set as well as Kirsten Watt’s ambient lighting design – the audience feels they are immersed in Canadian cottage country, complete with wooden cabins, Muskoka chairs, and tall birch trees. In addition, the mechanical set moves effortlessly maintaining the magic possible in the world of live theatre. The result is that both Jack and Emma are never overshadowed but very much supported by their surroundings. Along with Mervi Agombar’s authentic costuming of the two actors, this knowledgeable team contributes enormously to the enjoyment level, and the audience leaves the theatre amused and gratified – they have weathered the storm, with pleasure.
Curtain goes up at 8 o’clock each evening, except Sunday, with matinee performances on Wednesdays at 12:00pm and Saturdays at 2:00pm. Contact the Box Office at (807) 345-5552 for more information.