Canadian playwright Norm Foster is not exactly a household name this side of the border. Yet he’s on the way to becoming a favorite in a city just barely on the American side.
On Friday, the Spokane Civic Theatre opens its second Foster play in two years, “The Affections of May,” a comedy about how love is funnier the second time around.
May Henning owns a bed-and-breakfast in the little Canadian tourist town of Grogan’s Cove. One day, her husband Brian deserts her, cleans out the bank account and heads back to the big city.
May has to start her love life over again – and finds that plenty of the “rural Romeos” of Grogan’s Cove are willing to help out.
By most accounts, it has the same low-key and affectionate brand of comedy that made Foster’s play “The Foursome” a hit for the Studio Theatre last season.
“I find it far more satisfying if I can make an audience laugh and feel a little heartache within the same story,” Foster is quoted on his Web site.
“The Affections of May” was the most-produced play in Canada in 1991 and has gone on to become a staple of community theaters and regional theaters across that country. The Toronto Globe and Mail called it a “charmer for all seasons.”
The play features a comic seduction scene over a game of Scrabble – you don’t see that every day – and a farcical climax that includes a bunny costume.
Heather McHenry-Kroetch directs a cast of four. Chasity Kohlman plays May and Paul Villabrille plays her philandering husband, Brian. Brad Picard plays Quinn the bumbling handyman and Andrew Biviano plays Hank, the nerdy banker.
“I think for the most part, they’re about ordinary people just trying to get by in life,” said Foster on his Web site. “I never set out with a monumental purpose in mind.
“I’m not trying to teach an audience a lesson or pass along some profound message, because I don’t think I’m qualified. What I am trying to do is make them feel a little better about this world, and that’s not easy these days.”