By John Swartz
Finally, someone wrote a play about a drummer. Norm Foster’s Moving In, which opened Wednesday at the Opera House, is about a drummer, Brett (Jake Goldsbie), who, after years of toiling in bar bands, can afford his own place – the basement of his parent’s home, and…
Wait, that’s a different play.
In this play however, Brett is a drummer, but not the main character. The play is an ensemble affair. His father, Mark (Dan Lett), is moving in with Gretchen (Viviana Zarrillo) and we intrude into the story just after the boxes were loaded in, but before the furniture arrives. .
Brett is late to help with the heavy lifting, but you do get to see Brett and Mark carry onto the set the world’s lightest couch. Brett also keeps finding things Mark probably should have packed better. This becomes a running joke. Both Brett and Mark are chasing a dream. Brett can’t get his band out of the legion, and Mark quit his job to paint.
Gretchen is a real estate agent and has been for a while. So long, her relationship with her daughter has suffered. How do we know, her daughter, Rachel (Molly Kidder), who lives in Winnipeg, shows up, without advance notice. This completely surprises Gretchen, and everyone else. She also showed up because her marriage just blew up and she wanted her mom. Her mom didn’t figure this out on her own and had to be told.
Oh, Rachel is a cop, so we have a character in a comedy with no sense of humour and that quality Foster uses to good effect.
Things go left when Brett says to Rachel – I have a gig tonight, what to come?
What’s the end goal? There isn’t one, or there are several. It’s just minutes in time of a family in the making. The kids don’t want to hear or know about what their parents are doing and the parents want to know everything about what the kids are doing (on the surface). As soon as the water gets deep, no one wants to hear anything.
Each actor is perfectly cast. I think Goldsbie (who was on Degrassi: The Next Generation for 8 seasons and will be instantly recognizable to certain generations – he was also a sports writer and has the podcast Less Than Jays) stands out. His timing and facial expressions get a laugh at every turn. Viviana is no stranger to the Opera House stage and never turns in a mediocre performance. Molly Kidder, let’s pause for a moment to consider the name. You are right, she is related, niece. Her father is Eric Peterson (Corner Gas) and her mother is Annie Kidder, also an actress and a theatrical director and founder of People for Education. You could say acting is a natural for her, but of course acting skill doesn’t happen by osmosis.
Lett is here for the first time. You have seen him in a movie or TV show, some big ones too.
Of the three, each contributes to scoring laughs, either delivering a line, or being the target of one (which seems to me to be a more difficult job). I can’t say there is a thing they could do differently.
The script is outstanding. I like Norm Foster plays. They’re all funny, some more than others, all worth seeing. This one however is several cuts above. With his other plays sometimes the characters say or do things people wouldn’t normally but for the play make sense and get the laugh. Here everything that happens really could happen, and has happened – maybe over a long period of time, a lifetime, and not all crammed into two hours. This is the most natural storytelling Foster has produced.
He even goes after trying too hard. Mark and Gretchen spend almost the entirety of the play trying to come up with a tune that will be our song. No one ever set out to pick an our song, which is something Foster knows. See the play, you’ll get what I mean.
Speaking of production, this cast, along with director Jessie Collins, is the first to perform it. It’s a premiere of sorts. It first ran at the Upper Canada Playhouse before coming here. This kind of explains how polished the performance is.
The other thing I like, the drummer jokes. I never heard them before, Foster came up with some new ones.
The play closes July 21 and many of the performances are sold out, so get tickets now.
(Images Supplied) Main: Cast of Moving In, Jake Goldsbie, Viviana Zarrillo, Dan Lett and Molly Kidder.