The Chemainus Theatre Festival has created an absolute gem with their new comedy The Fiancée.
You will still be chortling as you remember moments from the show as you drive home from the theatre. You’ll probably wake up the next morning still with a smile on your face and a huff of laughter.
There are two keys to the outstanding success of this show: the cast and the script.
The Fiancée tells the tale of two sisters: Rose, played by Rebbekah Ogden and Lucy, played by Jasmine Case. Set in the mid-1940s, soldiers are returning from the Second World War, putting Rose out of her factory job (Rosie the Riveter, anyone? Playwright Holly Lewis has tremendous fun playing with the names of the characters she has created) and endangering the ability of her and sister Lucy to stay in their rental apartment, whom the new landlord, Ms. Crotch (her name just gets more hilarious from there), insists is a family building where only married couples are allowed.
Lucy is your classic girl who can’t say no, to use a nod to the famous musical Oklahoma! She is the happy-go-lucky sister who just can’t bear to disappoint anyone, so she always says yes, whether it’s to a door-to-door salesman or a proposal. Which leads to her having not one, but three different fiancés expecting marriage as they come home from war: the sensitive Manny, the cocky Dick, and the no-nonsense Clark.
The role of Lucy is no easy one as in the wrong hands she could easily come across as flighty and annoying. But Case is absolute perfection in the part, managing instead to be lovable and fun (though definitely flighty). Her delightful portrayal carries the production. Ogden is perfect as her foil, equal parts infuriated and protective of her younger sibling.
Another standout in the cast is Tamara McCarthy as Ms. Crotch. Enough cannot be said about just how wonderful she is here, delivering some of the most clever writing in the show with the perfect dry, deadpan demeanor. Technically, she’s probably the villain of the story, but her zingers are so hilarious that every moment she’s on stage is a delight, and you’ll be rooting for her, too.
Frankie Cottrell as Manny, Jamar Adams-Thompson as Dick and Tyler Lionel Parr playing the two roles of suitor Clark, and salesman Chester are equally well-cast.
Not only is the main plot of the script for The Fiancée brilliant, but so is the execution. Despite some predictability that comes with the romantic comedy genre, there are also surprises here that the audience won’t see coming. The dialogue is snappy and as previously mentioned contains some real gems from the likes of Crotch that make it a good thing that beverages are not allowed in the theatre during the performance.
And of course it all wraps up in a nicely satisfying bow at the end, making this show the perfect way to brighten up a fall evening.
While the show is rightfully mostly froth with some memorable characters, it’s worth noting the feminist undertones of the script as well. It remembers how recent it has been that single women were allowed to rent a decent apartment, for example. Rose, as happened to thousands of women after the war, loses her livelihood in the blink of an eye when men return and need jobs, with no thought given to how that could destroy her life. Ms. Crotch insists on Ms., rather than Mrs. or Miss and feels like she has to be as tough as nails to be taken seriously. Even though, as per the time period and the romantic comedy formula, everyone ends up paired off in a traditional way, Rose doesn’t just forget about wanting a career.
The Fiancée is an immensely satisfying experience and you should run, not walk to book your tickets. The show is only on offer until Oct. 22. Check out chemainustheatre.ca to book or for more information.