HAVING HOPE AT HOME
Produced by Kyle Brough and Directed by Helen Coughlin
By Joe Szek
This season, the Borelians of Port Perry have selected stories that have touched our hearts and souls, and David S. Craig’s ‘Having Hope at Home’ is a gentle reminder of just how important family is to each of us no matter what occurs in our lives. Not only do we have a chance to laugh at what happens before a baby is born, but also we are brought to tears in being reminded that the arrival of a newborn infant signals an opportunity for a fresh start for everyone.
Michel Charbonneau and Carolyn Bingham (played convincingly by real life and charming husband and wife Kyle and Justine Dickie) have moved away from the rush of Canadian urban life to live on the old Bingham family farm (complete with peeling wallpaper and out dated but comfortable furniture) with their eccentric grandfather (a hilarious Howard Linscott), where they plan to raise a child and run a dairy business. Together all three find solace in tradition and inspiration in each other. On a winter night, Michel and Carolyn’s baby is about to arrive. But modern medicine meets midwifery head on in a torrent of family feuding headed by stuffy, pretentious and over protective parents Bill and Jane Bingham (played so skillfully by David Geene and Joanne Norman that we want to get up on that stage and cuff them). As tensions rise between three dysfunctional generations, it takes the baby’s arrival with the midwife (a nicely grounded performance by Carolyn Goff) to heal the rift in this funny, heart -warming story of forgiveness.
There are so many individuals behind the scenes to make community theatre pulse and, in this production, these selfless people have given of their time to ensure this play is a success. Subtle touches within the set and use of props strongly indicate to the audience how drafty this farmhouse must have been, complete with the plastic over the windows and the periodic sound of the howling wind. It is clearly obvious that director Helen Coughlin was taken with the emotional impact of this story and has not turned it into a simple ‘sitcom’ we might find on television today. Instead, she has worked tirelessly with each cast member to ensure flesh and blood humans emerge from the comedy, the drama, the pathos, the arguments, the discussion and finally the conclusion where we learn the baby will be named Hope in the midst of all this confusion.
There were some poignant moments deftly handled with great care. Two of them occur in the second act. The reconciliation between father and son of Russell and Bill Bingham (Messrs. Geene and Linscott) out in the woodshed where the son believes his father has set out to die in the cold employs just the right amount of human compassion and kindness while mixed with some funny one liners. As diminutive midwife Dawn Shaw, Carolyn Goff’s silence as she stands up to the towering David Geene says plenty without saying anything.
In his program notes, producer Kyle Brough describes community theatre as participating and seeing the thrill of something alive and breathing and within reaching distance that will only exist for the few fleeting hours that it is happening right in front of us. Make your way to Port Perry’s Town Hall to see ‘Having Hope at Home’ and to breathe in this ‘live’ excitement as it plays out in front of you.
A Home Full of Hope runs February 25, 26, 27 at 8 pm and February 27 at 2 pm. at the Town Hall, 1873, in Port Perry.