Once I got through fumbling with the words of my pre-show speech I was treated to a nice evening of estrogen fueled laughter at Walterdale Theatre with The Women
. Directed by Catherine Wenschlag, it's the stage play of one of my all-time favourite movies from 1939 starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Rosalind Russell and a whole bunch of other women. It was ground-breaking in that in the film none of the men were ever seen, only talked about. The play is the same. A cast of 17 women playing many more roles tell the story of the loving and loyal Mary Haines (Roseanna Sargent) as her marriage falls about when she discovers her husband is fooling around with the predatory Crystal Allen (Julie Whelan).
I clearly enjoyed it, as so many people commented to me after the show on how much I was laughing. It was filled with quite a few scenes of witty conversation and larger than life characters. There's a lot going on in the show as the play serves to show the disintegration of the marriage of Mary and Steven Haines from multiple points of view. I loved the debrief about the state of the household between the maid Jane (Sadie Bowling) and the Plain Cook (Peg Young). I also really enjoyed all the scenes between the eternally pregnant Edith (Jenn Robinson) and the envious and somewhat innocent Peggy (Mandy Stewart). Another standout was Lilianna Coyes-Loiselle who demonstrated the sharp intelligence of Little Mary as she deals with her parent's divorce. Nicolle Lemay also gives a wonderfully devious performance as the meddling Sylvia.
There was a lot going on - I pulled out a few scenes, but really what makes this show work is the strong ensemble and the commitment by all the cast to big choices and being able to embrace the cattiness along with the kindness of the women in their various relationships. It's a fun ride full of laughter and although I would like to think we don't quite live in this world anymore, episodes of the Bachelor might suggest that there is still a lot of truth to it.
runs until February 17th at Walterdale Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at Tix on the Square at 780.420.1757 or online www.tixonthesquare.ca or at the Box Office 1 hour prior to show start.
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