by Jason Booker
A wonderfully titled comedy about parents who know too much or know too little about their kids and the journey of discovery, or: how to pull your head out of the sand and stop being an ostrich. But wait, the show tells us that is a myth. Just as it’s a myth to call this play by Matt Murray just a comedy. This is a comedy with heart.
Astrid van Wieren as single mom Holly holds court in her living room for her friend Cheryl, a blunt Newfoundlander with a raunchy sense of humour, and the prim Pam, mother of Evan who comes by with a mission. Turns out that Pam has been snooping and has discovered a letter written from Evan to Holly’s Jody, which is something Pam wants to learn more about, hence a visit to the family of her child’s beau. Pam recently moved to Toronto, religiously-raised, wife of a drug prosecutor. This naïve woman has a lot to learn but Holly and Cheryl don’t hold that over her head, they gently introduce issues and (since the audience has been informed of why) it’s a pleasure to watch these ladies become friends.
Efficiently staged by Steven Gallagher, the play feels so real that it would be understandable if you forgot you were in a theatre, at least until the next belly-laugh comes along. The script drags a little bit in the last third of the show, as the focus becomes broader and the play dwells on the 70’s-style how-did-I-get-so-high type of joke. (And does anyone still laugh at those jokes? Apparently most of us at that performance.) But the stars of this show really are the actresses. Alanis Peart as Pam towers over these ladies as she innocently, firmly and cautiously explores what being in the big city means and Renée Hackett nearly steals the show with some of her fantastic line deliveries and bold presence. Van Wieren spins a homey feeling, a den-mother quality, out of Holly that transports the audience into that living room and makes the crowd feel her pain and joy as their heads are lifted out of the mediocrity of this year’s Fringe and into something much bigger and better.