Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: (Calgary) Jack Goes Boating

Swimming in Life
by Joe Vermeulen

[Please note that this review is based on a preview performance.]

It is a cold New York winter, and Jack has just met the love of his life. Connie is everything he has been looking for in a woman. There is just one problem though, Connie wants to go out boating and Jack cannot swim. Jack turns to his best friend Clyde (who set the couple up in the first place) to teach him to swim. Clyde and his wife Lucy are then subjected to Jack learning how to cook a gourmet meal for Connie. Just as the young love is taking flight, Clyde and Lucy’s marriage is imploding.

Garret Ross brings awkward and fumbling Jack to life wonderfully. You feel his awkward nervousness and excitement at his new love. You experience him confronting his fears and growing his own expectations of what he can do. Ross’s chemistry with the rest of the cast is palpable and the stage relationships became completely believable. 

beyond the laughs there is a strong message about what it means to be in love

Frank Zotter as Clyde is the perfect combination of outrageously funny and horrifically self-destructive. Zotter has you laughing one minute and crying the next. Of particular note are the scenes in the pool where Clyde is teaching Jack to Swim. Mabelle Carvajal’s Lucy is likewise comic and destructive. They both manage the New York accent with ease. Shawna Burnett as the shy and vulnerable Connie rounds out the excellent cast. She makes us feel her apprehension at first and finally her devotion by the end of the play.  The entire cast were wonderful in their roles.

Nick Blais’s set and lighting design were lovely and effective - easily moving between locations and with ingenious use of furniture to make a pool or a living room or even a hospital. Joel Crichton’s sound design was also impressive, with excellent sound effects on the stage and wonderful original compositions for transitions. Laura Lotte’s costumes brought out the subtle nuances of each character, from the uptight Connie to the out there Clyde.

Overall Jack Goes Boating is a wonderfully entertaining show, but beyond the laughs there is a strong message about what it means to be in love, and how to destroy love and friendship. Every character has their own struggles to overcome, and like the rest of us sometimes they don’t succeed. It is very much worth seeing.

Playing at the Pumphouse to 8 December

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