By Joe Szekeres
Norm Foster’s Golden Girls of the Golf Course have teed off for another two-week round of golf at Scarborough’s Village Theatre.
And they’re just as sassy, bitchy, sensitive and adorable as ever.
On the day after their friend, Catherine’s, funeral, Margot (Meg Gibson), Tate (Lucy Clarke) and Connie (Uju Umenyi) gather for a round of golf in honour of their departed dearly loved one. The ladies are joined by a fourth, Dory (Carolyn Williamson), another friend of Catherine’s that they have never met. During this round of golf, there are some amusing moments, some poignant moments, some quiet moments and some angry moments as they all try to piece together where life has brought them and where life is taking them in discussion of various subject matters of friendship, religion, sex just to name a few.
The three-quarter thrust stage of the Village Theatre reminds me of Stratford’s Festival Theatre, and I always wonder how the set design will function. Greg Nowlan’s set design here is terrific. Combined with Reese Brunelle’s projection design up centre of the beginning of the fairway, I felt as if I was transported right to a golf course. David Buffham’s lighting design nicely incorporated the green colour tones. On stage left slightly angled is a bench with a ball wash and small garbage pail nailed to a pole. On stage right is a sign announcing each hole and the par number.
Some reviewers have found that Mr. Foster’s earlier works might be formulaic. The characters find themselves in a ‘slice of life’ setting and moment in time. No matter how dramatic or serious a moment becomes, there is the need to laugh. (sounds like something right out of ‘Steel Magnolias). I prefer not to think of Mr. Foster’s work in this manner; instead, I just want to experience the immediacy of the moment with the characters.
Of course, each character must have distinct outward appearances that will make us remember them. Mary Nowlan, Meghan Clavel and Darlene Thomas’s respective work in costume, make up and hair designs create four unique character individuals who are obviously enjoying their day spent outdoors.
Each time I see this play I smile as a male playwright/author understands the psyche of the female, what makes her tick, what makes her angry, what makes her a woman. Director Katherine Turner has taken Foster’s script and worked diligently with it to create believable and realistic characters who appear as if they have it all together on the outside. Inside, their secrets and ‘hidden pasts’ come to the forefront sometimes hilariously, sometimes poignantly, sometimes angrily.
‘The Ladies Foursome’ is a wordy play and a running time of 2 hours and 40 minutes (with interval), so obviously pacing is of the utmost importance here. We do pay a visit to all eighteen holes of this round of golf. The one challenge behind this play is the transition from one scene to the next – do you go to blackout or somehow can the scene change without the auditorium going dark? The blackout may pose a challenge as it can periodically break focus on the plot and development of the characters. Fortunately, there was enough variety in the scene changes which helped differentiate that time moved forward on the golf course. At this opening night performance, however, the polite clapping from the audience at each scene conclusion broke my focus somewhat and I had to work harder to regain the plot interest and character development.
For this play to work and for the plot to move forward, these ladies must be in tune with each other and secure in their own performances of character development. As construction company owner, Margot, Meg Gibson is spot on in her matter of fact and ‘to the point’ delivery with just a dash of a cuss word each time she tees off. Uju Umenyi is deliciously funny as the on the prowl, cougar newscaster, Connie. Without spoiling what Connie does after her friend is buried, let’s just say I laughed out loud as Ms. Umenyi’s facial expressions said it all.
Carolyn Williamson incorporates the right amount of hesitation at the top of the show as Dory since she just met these ladies only the day prior. There are some wonderful bits where she begins to warm up to the game and to her new friends (the beer drinking with Margot is a riot to watch). Without going into melodrama or histrionics, Ms. Williamson handles the dramatic impact of their common friend, Catherine, with grace, charm and poignancy. As stay at home mother, Tate, Lucy Clarke’s facial expressions added humour to several moments (especially when the secret is discovered about Margot and Connie). Ms. Clarke’s accent is charming to hear; however, there were moments where her enunciation was not clear to my ears and I had difficulty hearing Ms. Clarke especially if her back was turned momentarily. Sometimes, I lost the joke or the zinger that was flung back to the other ladies. As performances continue, I’m sure all the ladies will be mindful of the importance of enunciation.
Final Comments: Congratulations to the Scarborough Players and to this production which closes out their sixtieth season. Get to see ‘The Ladies Foursome’ for a most entertaining time at the theatre. I am looking forward to their sixty-first season.
‘The Ladies Foursome’ runs July 4-6 and 11-12 at 8 pm with matinee performances July 7 and 13 at 2 pm at the Scarborough Village Theatre, 3600 Kingston Road (at Markham Road). For tickets call the Box Office (416) 267-9292 or visit the website to purchase online or further information.