Audience didn’t spare any laughs for Office Hours
A tremendously funny satire on the morals of the modern 9-to-5 world now playing on the Village Theatre stage in Qualicum Beach is community theatre at its best and the performance will long be remembered.
In Office Hours, the cast brings on the laughs with playwright Norm Foster’s jewel
and although the script is 20 years old, it is still relatable, especially in a modern day society where the bottom line is everything.
The fun piece of theatre unfolds events during the course of one day in the city, in six different offices.
It is directed with finesse and sparkling pace by Gerri Hemphill and from start to finish the comedy had the entire house laughing.
Hemphill said of all the plays she has done, this one is by far the most fun.
As the lives of a chaotic group of characters unfold Canadian playwright Foster cleverly weaves together several separate and yet curiously intertwined scenarios.
While it may seem like these characters have nothing in common, in the end the audience sees the ties that connect them.
The fast-paced script highlights behind the scenes schemes that start in a TV producer’s office dealing with several breaking stories, over to some film producers trying to score a deal with a has-been American film director, and then on to a literary agent hoping to put a screenplay together for a mysterious novelist.
Jim Currey performing as Warren a television reporter facing the fact that his uptight flavoured coffee loving boss is about to fire him melodramatically sets the tone for the show as he is the first actor to appear on-stage.
When Diane LeBlanc enters portraying Pamela, she aces her ice queen demeanor and Keith Roger as the one-armed man is plays his pathetic character perfectly.
In scene two Paul Churchill, Anne Jinks and Keith Roger are a funny-boned troupe of performers who definitely know the ins and outs of comedy. They work together well as an ensemble and deliver some great moments of hilarity.
Judy Christopherson and George Marshall who play Mark and Ellie in scene three have some great lines and the comedy is all in the delivery which was spot on.
“This is starting to sound like nit picking” says a wounded Mark as his wife points out his cheating ways in several pieces of photographic evidence obtained by a private eye named Dick.
In the second act, the action moves to the office of a lawyer and then on to a racetrack manager.
The cast in scene four lends comic zest to Foster’s gentle barbs and crazy situations. Brenda Jemmeson as Rhonda a domineering mother, Len Mustard as her hen-pecked husband Lloyd and Scott Murray as their son Richard, an entertainment lawyer with a big secret rise to the occasion with wit and charm.
Jemmeson brings a wealth of theatrical experience to the stage and her stellar comic timing had the entire audience laughing hysterically.
The next scene has Murray on stage again this time playing Stan who gently informs Artie, a super-sized jockey that his horse racing days are over.
Clive Scarff portrays the gentle giant, who has a lot of emotional baggage convincingly.
Although Scarff hasn’t performed in live theatre for almost 30 years you wouldn’t know it by his strong performance. Casting Scarff in the role as the extremely unsuitable horse jockey was brilliant.
Scarff said he hasn’t acted on stage since his days in high school amateur theatre, but he has been involved in television production including direction, producing and writing. His passion is screenwriting having written eight screenplays and one pantomime to date.
In an interview after the opening night performance, he said that he is thrilled to be performing on the Village Theatre stage.
“It was my New Year’s resolution to get back into theatre. TV was work but the theatre is different. Part of the attraction was the Village Theatre building. It’s the real McCoy and for amateur theatre it is professional and really impressive,” he confessed.
He said he was pleased the opening night audience enjoyed the performance and admitted once he got through the dress rehearsal, he knew it would be a hit.
“It was a huge relief for me after the dress rehearsal. By getting through it I got to enjoy opening night.”
The final scene brings many of the characters together — perhaps not surprisingly — in a psychiatrist’s office, where the plot themes come together in a mad-cap ending.
Lynn Beamond as the sex-starved therapist is hilarious and Andrew Brown as the salesman who offers to talk a neurotic figure skater out of jumping off an office building ledge if he can get a sale before quitting time is also strong.
Even the the stage crew who perform the set changes got a round of applause for their comedic contribution to the show.
Grab a seat for this play produced by Alistair McVey. It is filled with snappy dialogue, witty repartee, hilarious predicaments, and lots and lots of laughs.
Office Hours runs for three weeks until June 15. Tickets are available at the Village Theatre, Qualicum Beach. Call the Box Office at 250-752-3522 for more information or check www.echoplayers.ca.
Win tickets to the show
Want to see the latest ECHO Players show — Office Hours — for yourself? Enter to win a pair of tickets to the June 13 show at Qualicum Beach’s Village Theatre. To enter, write down your name, home town and phone number and send your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop off your entry to our office on Middleton Avenue in Parksville. Deadline: 12 noon Friday, June 8.