As published in The Erin Advocate
The quality of fun is not strain'd. It droppeth – not unlike a gentle rain – among those that seek it.
And thusly doth it go in the current Erin Theatre production, entitled The Art of Believing, served up with a nice buffet dinner at David’s Restaurant until this Friday.
It is their 8th Annual Christmas Dinner Theatre, written by Susanna Lamy and directed by Kathryn DeLory. It’s a comedy, ostensibly about a ritzy art auction attended by the audience, but mainly about the antics of the auction house staff and several art buyers.
It could be characterized as an art forgery who-dunnit mystery, in which the plot can be put on hold at any time for some light-hearted singing and choreography. Audience members get to fill out a form to guess the culprit, with the correct answers entered in a prize draw. (Beware of cast members mingling with the crowd, and avoid choosing the obvious suspects.)
There is a real art auction involved as well. The pieces used on stage (famous Impressionist and early 20th Century Modernist works) were created by local artists Susanna Lamy, Jayne Reid, Melissa Staples, Richard Day, Barb McKee and Rhonda Williamson. They are being auctioned off silently, with proceeds to East Wellington Community Services.
Bids can be made in person at the shows or by phone. Go to www.erintheatre.ca to see the images, check the auction procedures and learn about the local artists. As of Monday, bids were in the $50 to $225 range.
The play is also a crash course in Art History, presented in the unstuffiest of manners by the frugal Cora Moneypenny (Carol McCone Day). She and her ever-complaining husband John Carp (Peter King) have many hilarious bits, sparked mainly by his poor hearing.
Helena Beckett (Susanna Lamy) is an art gallery curator of speckled reputation who has rounded up some multi-million dollar masterpieces for auction. She and uptight art historian Nellie Holt (Denise Rowe) try to figure out how they ended up with a fake Monet.
They work their shticks with panache, as does Christina Penner (Laura Schnablegger) a nosey reporter, eager for scandal and ready to twist people’s words against them. So unrealistic.
Bob Holler (Howard Lopez) is a used car salesman who brings a delightful sprinkle of lechery and lowbrow art commentary to the mix. His attentions are directed to the slightly disreputable auctioneer Jamie Gavel (Pamela Keyes), whose frantic live auction routine adds a generous bolt of energy to the show.
The mysterious Brother Bruno (John Carter), delivering a Van Gogh from a French monastery, tries valiantly to honour his vow of silence by communicating with a very humourous series of mimed messages.
The crew list for the production features many of the cast, along with Richard Day, Mike Russell, Jill Rogers, Melissa Staples, Barb McKee, Paulina Grant, Brenda Wainman and Katherine DeLory.
Together, cast and crew have produced a delightful diversion, a lighthearted lark, a respite from reality, a thespianic thpectacle. Label it as you like – it was fun.