‘Til Death Do Us Part, a skillful, new comedy by Halifax writer Katerina Bakolias, is serious fun and selling out fast at the Neptune studio theatre.
The 90-minute play, produced by Kick at the Dark Theatre for a short run through Neptune’s and Theatre Nova Scotia’s Open Spaces program, recalls Norm Foster in its situational comedy and Noises Off! in its rapid, door-opening, door-closing pace.
If you want guaranteed laughs and some farcical silliness take it in today at 2 p.m. in the theatre or by live stream also today at 2 p.m. ( ‘Til Death Do Us Part (neptunetheatre.com)
Ryan and Kira are about to get married and her mother has paid for the wedding at a cheap, out-of-town, summer destination rampant with raccoons. The only hitch is that after a night of pre-wedding partying Ryan and Kira wake up in bed next to a dead body.
The comedy is off to the races as they try to hide the body and throw off Kira’s mother and the chatty housekeeper all the while battling raccoons.
It’s hard to write comedy and Bakolias keeps her audience laughing right up to the end and a standing ovation. In her tool kit are word play, great physical comedy, talking at cross purposes, mistaken identity, sight gags and a mean mother-in-law.
Directed by Samantha Wilson, who keeps the surprises coming fast and furious, are Sean Skerry as Ryan, an agitated, anti-hero, and Abby Weisbrot as Kira, equally upset but a tougher nut. Both are strong physical actors and adept at expressing the ever-rising shock as things go from bad to worse. The way Ryan and Kira coldly manipulate and carry the body (in a very good performance by James MacLean) is unusually dispassionate and funny.
Cat McCluskey is the overly-friendly housekeeper engaged to a woman and bristling when Ryan tries to call her “shey” instead of “she/they.” Sharleen Kalayil as Kira’s mother keeps her icy composure, the comedy lying in her ineffective attempts to smile at a son-in-law she hates and in her combative style of wedding organization complete with head-set.
‘Til Death Do Us Part is warm and playful; clearly the cast is enjoying the challenge of delivering pure comedy at a time when people can really use it. The raccoon puppetry is also excellent and very sweet.
Oddly enough the play grew out of a broken relationship for Bakolias who decided after a while to focus on her comedic-relief storyline and have fun writing.
Sound designer Alex Sinclair, a National Theatre School of Canada production and design student, is on top of all the ringing phones and raccoon growls. Also on the creative team are scenic designer Ell Zagar, Shakespeare by the Sea’s technical director, who built a good, functional, cheap hotel room suite with scary green walls and multiple doors, and costume designer Alex Esperanza in charge of two wedding dresses, multiple shirts and white T-shirts for Ryan and summery dresses for Kira.
Olivia Rankin is stage manager and lighting designer; Colleen MacIsaac, actor, writer, MFA art student at NSCAD University and co-founder of The Villains Theatre, produces. This production is an inspiring example of experienced theatre professionals getting a world premiere by an emerging playwright off the ground. (Bakolias won the 2020 Chrysalis Emerging Artist Award.)
‘Til Death Do Us Part would be perfect summer theatre for stages in Atlantic Canada and beyond.