“Marriage is too much trouble. Next time I’ll just find a woman I hate and buy her a house.”
Journalist John Cummings is a little bit bitter about his recent divorce and his subsequent move to a small flat in the Aurora Terrace Apartments, under a nearby airport’s flight path.
In fact, he has soured on the whole idea of romance, love, commitment, determined not to get involved in any serious way with any woman again. “It’s silly to think two people can stay together forever,” he says firmly.
Then he meets three rather remarkable women and gradually John Cummings begins to realize that in the battle of the sexes, both sides have unique strategies and unexpected weapons.
Upper Canada Playhouse’s new production of Norm Foster’s witty, fast moving comedy, Here on the Flight Path, (running until July 29) is a show for grown-ups.
You have to have lived a little, loved a little, to appreciate just how clever Foster’s dialogue and characters are. In the course of Flight Path people are able to catch a revealing glimpse of themselves in the on stage characters Foster has created: but because this is Norm Foster, there is no sting accompanying that look.
“With a Norm Foster play, people find themselves laughing hysterically, because he is just so funny,” Playhouse artistic director Donnie Bowes said during an earlier interview. “Ideas come to him and he channels them.”
“Foster is a gem,” added Walter Learning, who directed the show for the Playhouse. “Norm Foster is a funny, funny man, and people enjoy experiencing his view of relationships in this play.”
And the Playhouse has come up with a stellar cast for Here on the Flight Path.
The sometimes curmudgeonly John is played by veteran actor Jamie Williams (“There are two things a man wants in a relationship. And the second is that the woman not make a scene when the relationship is over.”).
You just can’t help liking Williams’ character.
His John changes during the play, opens up, and eventually learns a lot about himself. Williams portrays a man forced to take a fresh look at life and love, and invites the audience along. His Cummings is not quite the same man at the end of the play as he was in the beginning.
Melanie Janzen is Fay, Angel and Gwen: three remarkable women, all played by the same remarkable actress.
In an earlier interview Janzen discussed the challenge of playing these radically different women in the same play. “You have to find three different motivations for each of these women to make her feel complete.”
Yes, she changes wigs and clothes (at incredible speed, kudos to her and the stage crew), but it is more than this.
Each woman moves, speaks, projects differently: Fay, the amused cynic, Angel the wide-eyed ingenue, Gwen, older, hurt, but learning to stand on her own. They are all Janzen, and all women we (and John) want to come to know.
The audience roared with laughter throughout the show I attended.
Whether it was call girl Fay’s wry description of her job (“I’m a consultant.” “Who do you consult with?” “Pretty well anyone who has the money.”) or Alberta Angel’s ingenuous comments (“I’m reading Withering Heights.” “Um, that’s Wuthering Heights. It’s a ‘u’.” “Oh, I thought that was a spelling mistake.”), the laughs are genuine and real.
I heard more than one person leave the theatre the night I was there with the amused observation that “there was a lot of truth in that play. A lot of truth.”
Sit back and savor the moment when John steps on to his balcony, at the Aurora Apartments, and says, “I’m going to tell you a story. Three stories really…” It’s the start of an evening of witty and wonderful entertainment.
Norm Foster’s Here on the Flight Path runs at Upper Canada Playhouse until July 29. For information and tickets contact 613-543-3713.