Friday Review – no, not a book today, but a play!

Happy Friday, Everyone!

This is primarily a post for Winnipeggers or anyone who will be in ‘The ‘Peg’ this weekend. There are only 4 more performances of The Miser of Middlegate, produced by Theatre Projects Manitoba. The play was written by Carolyn Gray, the Writers’ Guild’s very own Executive Director, and directed by Krista Jackson. A friend and I went to see it on Tuesday evening and the cast performed to an almost sold-out crowd, so I suggest, if you plan to see it this weekend, order your tickets ahead of time. To do so, click the link attached to the play’s title. It will get you to the site.

The play’s description is as follows:

“Dark days have come for Winchell, our modern day miser. He is faced with the most dynamic situation of his life: he must woo his wife back so he won’t have to pay her out in divorce court, and cure his recently engaged daughter Emily of the matrimonial urge, so he won’t have to pay for a wedding – ever!

Set in modern day Winnipeg, Gray’s inspired version of Molière’s classic satire is part sex farce and part screwball comedy. Exploring family, love and money, The Miser of Middlegate sharply critiques our culture obsessed with acquisition and never loses its sense of humour.

A cheeky and irreverent romp into the lives of one entrepreneurial Winnipeg family.”

It has had rave reviews and I can safely say, they weren’t wrong, for once! I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of the show. Married to a bit of a miser, myself, I could appreciate how the wife (played by Maria Stephenson Kerr) felt having to pinch pennies through decades of marriage. Carolyn does exaggerate the compulsions that drive them all, but that is where the outrageous humour comes in. Winnipeggers are well-known for their thrift, so the play is a bit of a poke at all of us and we can see ourselves reflected in the delightfully irreverent characters.

Here’s a preview I found on YouTube, just to give you a taste of what you can expect:

In addition, whether Carolyn scripted it or not, I think ‘Richard’ was the most colourful of the characters. Played by Ryan James Miller, his performance as the family butler was definitely over the top at times, but he looked fabulous in heels! (A little inside joke!) The ‘Waiter’, (Andrew Cecon) portrayed the lothario quite convincingly. While ‘Emily’ (Shannon Guile) was a little whiny at times, she was convincing as the poor little rich girl trapped under the thumb of her penny-pinching father, played by Nicholas Rice. I’m only glad my husband isn’t nearly as Scrooge-like as WInchell! 🙂 

I also found the stage direction fascinating. It always amazes me how sets are changed and this time was no exception. The butler and waiter were recruited to move the furniture about between scenes and sections of the set walls opened up to conceal them. What made these set changes more interesting was the manner in which they were done, with little flourishes and an occasional little dance by Richard. All in all, it was a very enjoyable show. Now, I want to go out and buy the script to see how it’s done from start to finish. Thanks, Carolyn and your crew for a wonderful evening! 🙂