By John Swartz
You’re gonna laugh. I’m sure of it. On paper Mark Crawford’s play, Bed and Breakfast, must have looked like a nightmare for a director to begin to think about what to make of it.
It only has two actors and about 3,673 characters. That’s a bit of exaggeration, but you’re going to think Thomas Alderson and Matt Pilipiak must have woken up every morning during rehearsals wondering – who am I? There will be moments you as an audience member will think – who are they now? Not often, but it’s bound to happen for an instant or two.
They play a couple, Brett and Drew. The play starts at the end and winds out for a couple minutes and then – boom, it’s off to the races with cars that have one wheel smaller than the others and oval shaped, wonky shocks, and no brakes. A clown car if you will.
There was a moment a little light bulb went off – ‘it’s like I’m watching Robin Williams and Robin Williams on a tear’. They change and flip characters on a dime, at a turn, or a shift of their jackets from on to off. It almost seems schizophrenic.
They run through every stereotype of a gay male you can imagine, a few female types, and small town homophobic guys, along with their character’s normal selves.
And for those wondering, the normal type is just like any other person. These two are just a couple guys who have had good and bad fortune dropped on them and they are trying to figure out the path.
The bad is Brett’s Aunt died. The good, in a way, is she left her house to Brett. The bad, they live in the city and the house is in a small town. That comes with a variety of progressives and as Gene Wilder said in Blazing Saddles, morons. It’s the difference between living where few care or pay attention to what you do or are, to living where everyone knows your business, and you’re gay.
It’s directed by Fiona Sauder. She certainly was up to the task of making sure the actors where in the right place from second to second so we didn’t get confused, and sorting out how the actors would differentiate the multitude of characters they are playing. She (and Pilipiak) recently won 2 Dora Awards for writing and directing a rewrite of Alice In Wonderland and the play also picked up 4 more.
The funniest bits are after halftime when there are 8 characters sharing the story at the same time. Remember there are only two actors on stage.
There is a huge twist near the end. It starts with the words, “I don’t hate you.” You will sense something profound will change things, but you aren’t going have any clue where it’s heading until the scene is over.
On top of all that, the set, which the decor looks very cool (and I’ll bet people are going to leave thinking, ‘that’s how I want to remake my home”) has only one table, four chairs (which are not sat in very much) and one piece of cloth that serves many purposes. That’s it. If you’ve ever seen the Actors Studio video with Robin Williams and how he carried on for several minutes with a scarf as a prop, this is the function of the cloth.
There are moments which may make some people uncomfortable, and they should, but the humour and way the characters deal with things might be educational and then you’re going to laugh.
Bed and Breakfast runs to August 11 and you can get tickets online, or call the box office, 705-326-8011 and ask about any specials.
(Images Supplied) Main: Thomas Alderson and Matt Pilipiak in Bed and Breakfast now playing at the Opera House (Photo by Kristi May)