When the house lights dimmed, and pop music carried our ears forward, we saw a lone woman, on stage, sitting at a small table for two, sipping casually from a wineglass. The backdrop, different heights of rectangular shapes, squeezed together to create a vertical cityscape, gave the illusion of a busy metropolitan center. In walked a man; even though he startled the woman, they obviously knew each other -- thence their conversations began.
Wrong For Each Other played July 30 to August 16, at the Roxy Theatre
in Owen Sound. Acting out a series of flashbacks to reminisce
about their relationship, Joel Kaiser, who played Rudy
Sorenson, and Megan Francis, as Norah Case, were so slick
at sliding into their different serious and funny situations,
they left me in awe of their professional abilities.
That initial opening sequence was fast-paced but easy to follow. They were once a couple, but not having seen each other for a while, they were nervous yet very talkative.
And talk they did! I didn't quite understand for a few moments what was going on, as they swiftly moved from one part of the stage to another, talking about something totally different than what was said the moment before. But then, I finally clued in. I realized they were acting out events from their past. How Norah and Rudy met in a florist shop, their first dates and falling in love. He wanting her to meet his folks, (who owned a store that carried vegetables among other things), and she not wanting to. They acted out how they got married and wanted a baby and they talked about their divorce.
Divorce! The play is entitled "Wrong For Each Other," but were they? She was dressed in an uptown fashionable skin-tight dress -- he in simple pants and shirt. She flirted herself, with her pinky in the air -- he was just the boy next door. He loved baseball -- well, she tried to understand it! But, in my mind, they had a common bond. The gift of talking not to each other, but with each other. Of not just listening to each other, but hearing one another.
Joel Kaiser played his role as if it were written just for him. He had a presence on stage like a movie star. Maybe his camera appearances, including Street Legal, SCTV, and Hollywood Camera, among others, added to his professionalism. He was so fluid and natural in his role, is was an honour watching him.
Megan Francis' role was played very well, using a standoffish attitude toward Joel's character. Obviously he still carried a torch for her, but she wanted nothing to do with him. There was a monstrosity of lines to be memorized for this play. But even with all that chatter, they endured their roles with such reality and spontaneity, that the whole evening's performance was a pleasure to watch.
There was a part where a voice-over of Norah was recorded and played over music. It was a nice touch, but left me spoiled for the added volume of her voice coming from the overhead speakers. It left me wishing their whole dialogue were voiced with lapel-hiding microphones. Not to say I couldn't hear them, yes I could but the sound was so much richer.
Wrong For Each Other concluded with the gut feeling I had about
them both. He carried the flame, but I knew her match was still
burning under her mask of denial. You knew on their exit, they
may be together again. Playwright Norm Foster (who is one
of the most produced and prolific playwrights in Canada), as well
as Director Christopher McHarge (nominated for the prestigious
1997 Pauline McGibbon Award for Directing), should be commended
for such a wonderful play. It was much
better than anticipated.