REVIEW BY LISSA ALEXANDER
Mrs. Reynolds and the Ruffian is a fitting play for Qualicum Beach.
It brings to light the strained relationships and misunderstandings that are too often evident between young people and seniors.
It’s a poignant and thought provoking play, not meant to be a nail-biter that is wildly entertaining.
Director Arlene Blundell put it well in her program message.
“…some productions will be entertaining, some will challenge us to think. This presentation, I hope, will challenge you to think, consider your biases, yet be a hopeful inspiration to you in trying to relate to a younger, more alien generation.”
The story surrounds an elderly lady named Mrs. Reynolds and her endeavour to have a small garden and clean local park despite all the vandals and deliquents about. Jay is misguided and nasty young boy who get caught vandalizing and stealing from the old lady.
Rather than sending him to jail, it is decided they will take a restorative justice route called community payback, assisting Mrs. Reynolds in cleaning up her garden and the community.
I was very impressed with the acting in the play.
Mack Lazzarino (also known as Mackenzie Blanchard as listed in the program) gave a brilliant performance capturing the character Jay. Mack is a Grade 9 student at Kwalikum Secondary School.
He has taken part in a number of local acting camps and has worked with Bard to Broadway in the past, but this was his first performance with Echo Players, and hopefully not his last.
Other youth starring in play were Quinn Proud, who did a phenomenal job portraying Jay’s crass best friend Kieran, and Alexandra Harris, who also did an admiral job in her role playing Jay’s love interest.
Aviva Fox never disappoints in her acting roles and this was no exception. She was a very convincing Mrs. Reynolds and she nailed the timing and her lines, both funny and profound, every time.
Kim Bellwood was also a great addition to this excellent cast, as Cassie, Jays’ social worker.
I liked the honesty in the play. Mrs. Reynolds was certainly not a shining example of a role model in every case, but instead a believable, human character.
The play made you think about the assumptions people make when judging people they know nothing about. True there is no excuse for vandalizing and stealing, but often times there is more going on than meets the eye. We’re not all the same. We were not all raised the same. We all have different insecurities and have made different mistakes.
But we all need love, support and encouragement in order to be good, happy people. And sometimes we have to go out of our comfort zones to truly make a difference in someone else’s life.
Thanks to the director, cast and crew for delivering a strong play and giving us something meaningful to think about.
Tickets for the play are $19 for adults, $16 for seniors, $10 for students and $5 for 12 and under. Get them at the box office, by phone 250-752-3522 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. More info at www.echoplayers.ca.