By John Swartz
One of Norm Foster’s Christmas themed plays is simply called The Christmas Tree. It’s a one act play and opening night of the Mariposa Arts Theatre/Opera House production had Gayle Carlyle and John Challis onstage.
I’d say the characters had names, but we never really know their names, they keep changing. Both characters are pretty good liars.
Pretty good is relative. They’re not very good liars, but they do it constantly. Each time one of them opens a mouth to speak, you can be pretty sure what the character says is not going to be the truth.
They are talking about themselves, justifying why each should become the rightful owner of the only tree left on the lot. Each version of why gets a little more outlandish. Even when it appears they are breaking down façades and leveling, watch as you follow along, you’ll see the trucks driving through the holes in their stories. If this was about two guys, Laurel and Hardy would have been perfect for it.
What can you expect from a couple of loners arriving at the tree dispensary at the last possible minute? There has to be a reason why they are alone at the one time of the year when we all have places to go, people to see.
Of course the best lies take truth and turn it sideways. Point being, there is some truth buried in each their stories, revealing in stages who they are. They’re not bad people one suspects, they certainly aren’t unlikable, but in a way it’s possible their lifetime commitment to dishonesty lead to the corner lot.
In the end they only have each other. It’s as though the stars aligned to bring two outcasts into each other’s orbit.
There is a second cast of Stacey Schat and Doug Ironside playing the odd couple. They will perform on Friday and Saturdays of the three week run and Gayle and John the rest of the schedule. There are matinees Thursdays and Sundays.
As bonus, members of the Orillia Silver Band, performing as a quartet, will played some Christmas tunes the second half of the night. It won’t be the same 4 players each time either. Neil Barlow, conductor of the ensemble, was in the opening night quartet and said by the end of the run each member of the OSB will have performed.
Tickets are limited because of our current situation and seating is arranged so you and your party will be the right amount of distance away from anyone else. Because the bar is closed, you can bring in your own drinks and munchies, within reason.
(Photos by Mike Beresford) Main: Gayle Carlyle and John Challis in The Christmas Tree