Fueled by an exceptional cast and superb direction, Cow Patti Theatre Company’s current production — Norm Foster’s Here on the Flight Path – hits the ‘comic’ mark on an array of levels.
Described as a ‘poignant comedy’, the play tells the story of novelist John Cummings, played by Brian Young, who lives on the edge of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
Over the course of a few years, three different women move in next door – Fay, Angel and Gwen – and they are as different from each other as they possibly can be.
There is the sophisticated, rather world-weary ‘consultant’ Fay. There’s the sunny, plucky Alberta-born wannabe country singer Angel.
And finally there is sad and newly-single driving instructor Gwen who hails from Vancouver – with a few secrets of her own.
Each is played beautifully by the exceptionally-talented Debra Hale.
Shows run through to March 11th at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club.
According to the synopsis, although the novel John sets out to write never gets started, he learns plenty from the three ladies as the plot unfolds.
John connects with the three intriguing ladies to various degrees. He learns quite a bit from each as well – and friendships are formed. A romance blossoms at one point – but I won’t give away with which neighbour.
Suffice it to say that Foster’s script has been cleverly crafted to balance a sharp humourous edge with just the right amount of heart and poignancy. Other themes are touched on too, from the importance of friendship and loyalty; from the pains and trials of marriage breakdown to the struggle to re-establish oneself after such a jarring event like divorce.
But in typical Foster fashion, the laughs are never far away.
As John, Young is also fantastic. He may not have the demands of tackling three distinct characters, but he captures the likability and relatable authenticity of John so very well.
We are all rooting for this amiable fellow as he interacts with his neighbours and tries to find his way – he’s also climbing out from the wreckage of a broken marriage.
There is pain there of course, but he’s a pretty optimistic guy when all is said and done. Young does a wonderful job of bringing his character’s abundance of heart and decency to life.
For Hale – wow, hats off to this gifted woman. First off, as mentioned, each character she plays is so very different – it’s literally like three different actors nailing the parts so well.
From the intricacies of physical and vocal differences, to capturing the edges of differing personalities, Hale goes above and beyond – it’s really quite incredible to watch.
Faye, as indicated, is a bit on the world-weary side for good reason. She’s tough, smart, and ‘wise’ to the ways of men. She’s a survivor.
Angel takes the term ‘bubbly’ to unscaled heights – there’s just plenty of raw exuberance to go around with this delightful girl.
And Gwen seems so very mousy, sad and painfully reserved at first – but there’s a fire burning within as well.
Director AnnaMarie Lea provides her usual exceptional skills to putting together a solid show that never falters for a second. The momentum flows nicely, the pace is perfect and the set is also functional and attractive. Altogether, a fine evening of entertainment and a pleasure to watch.
Also unique about this particular play is that John speaks directly to the audience from time to time. I found this to add a charming appeal to the play – we see what truly makes John tick. It’s a clever move by Foster to add this device to the production – it only adds to the fun.
For tickets, or more information, check out www.cowpatti.com.