Gordon Gammie and Francine Deschepper in Little Thing, Big Thing at the Neptune studio theatre until May 26. (Ashley Pettipas)
It’s a treat to see Little Thing, Big Thing, the entertaining, award-winning 2016 hit from Festival Antigonish, restaged with the same team in the cozy Neptune studio theatre.
This two-actor, Irish caper features remarkable performances by Francine Deschepper as a starchy “nun on the run” and Gordon Gammie as a cursing, cranky, ex-con.
Irish writer Donal O’Kelly and the actors pitch the play along like a blowing tumbleweed from a light, comedic, plot-driven tale – at first like The 39 Steps – towards a deeper meditation on life and the murk of criminal power over “little people.”
Sister Martha has returned to her old, deserted Irish convent – Lazarus House — from Nigeria with a roll of film given to her to deliver to one person only. As she enters the convent Larry is robbing it of a statue for “one last job.”
An unknown, gun-carrying stranger calls out for the film and the two of them end up running for their lives without knowing who they are running from.
The theatrical storytelling style is magical and inventive with Gammie and Deschepper quickly shifting into multiple roles and creating an entire canvas of people and landscapes. They move all over the theatre and are playfully aided by the stage manager and key props.
The heartbeat of the show belongs to Larry and Sister Martha as they fight their way to an understanding of each other, their past sins and the nature of life.
The two grow away from stereotypes into vivid, lovable people. Deschepper, who won the 2016 Merritt Award for best actress, lifts Martha out of her rigid, orderly – though often poetic – self into a luminescent, joyful creature.
Gammie molds Larry away from a feckless and funny con-man into a fully realized human being who warms up as he admits his past mistakes and glimpses a higher purpose.
Jeremy Webb, now Neptune’s artistic director, won the 2016 Merritt for outstanding direction. He has a lovely touch, playful but delicate, with careful, comic consideration and full attention to the poetic and moral power in this galloping script.
The ending of Little Thing, Big Thing is surprisingly blunt.
This show demands a lot from its creative team of Laura Delchiaro (costume designer), Jessica Lewis (lighting designer), Ryan Wilcox (sound designer), Sarah O’Brien (stage manager) and Chelsea Dickie (assistant stage manager).
Little Thing, Big Thing runs to May 26 evenings at 7:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. weekend matinees and would be a great escape from all the rain (and Memorial Cup chaos) this holiday weekend. Neptune is offering a 20 per cent discount on adult tickets for A and B seating, on new purchases only with Promo Code HFXLTBT. This summer Neptune stages The Argyle Street Kitchen Party and Cinderella; it’s the venue for Eastern Front’s Stages Theatre Festival, May 27 to June 8, and the Halifax Fringe, Aug. 29 to Sept. 8.