As we’re still on holiday . . .

August 25, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Norm Foster’s play, Jonas and Barry in the Home, which premiered at Theatre Orangeville last season, is currently showing at the Lighthouse Theatre in Port Dover. You can try to get tickets, but – good luck – the show has been sold out for the nearly three-week run – but sold out four days before it actually opened.

When I called Lighthouse Theatre to get a single ticket, I succeeded in purchasing the one of only three single tickets that remained for the evening of my choice, specifically last Friday.

There was one bedroom available in a local Bed and Breakfast, so I snaffled that too.

Here was my plan: to drive down to Port Dover, see the show, have some dinner and stay the night – a stroll after breakfast and make my way home when I felt like it.

When I lived in London, England, I used to do a similar sort of thing: take the train from Victoria Station, ferry across to Boulogne, dinner at a simple restaurant, stay the night. Then a stroll around the town after breakfast. Lunch perhaps, all to my own say-so.

The contrast between Britain and France is so profound that a night away from London in even a small town in France, with all its pleasant differences, was like a week away.

Port Dover is still very much a Canadian town but the big contrast is a large body of water with a beach – Lake Erie.

It’s a real tourist town. At one point, I asked a dozen people for directions and none of them knew because none of them lived there.

Anyway, all the gaudy shops filled with beach miscellanea and clothing, all the beach restaurants with their why-would-you-seriously-want-to-eat-that menus and queues of people waiting to be served with it, all the crowds of folk and their offspring filling the beach and the walk-ways, hot and worn out by the end of their day in the sun, all so similar to every such town around the world, really. It seems that beach culture is its own, with considerable disregard for the national culture. The language will vary, naturally, but the essence is the same.

Anyway, there I was in Port Dover, getting ready to see how David Nairn, Norm Foster and Perrie Olthuis were getting on with this play which they had owned in its first production at the Orangeville Opera House.

Still, before even booking into my accommodations, before seeking the location of the theatre, I too parked near the beach and, with my shoes in my hands, walked into the water, thrilled at the feel of the lake.

The Bear Hug Bed and Breakfast is housed in a rambling mansion on Main Street and my host is a large, genial sort of chap, Greg Hemming, exactly suited to his establishment.  We chatted happily for a few moments, while he dug out keys to the room and the house for later and showed me to my room. As with most such places, it was homey, comfortable, beautiful.

Changed into theatre garb, as I saw it, and ready, the theatre was only a 10-minute walk, along Main Street.

The front of the Lighthouse Theatre is not imposing but the interior has been renovated to a high standard and the lounge and bar is large and elegant. The theatre itself has a balcony level as well as the ground floor and is about 60 seats larger than our own Opera House.

Jonas and Barry in the Home was a fine success here, but a new play performed many times over a tour changes subtly and this is true with this play and these well-tuned actors who are also great friends.

There is an increased depth to the acting, the humour and the overall delivery. Somewhat hard to put a finger on the difference, but to say it is richer, the voices are just where they should be and Norm Foster’s clever dialogue is given the justice it fully deserves. Brilliant. Wonderful.

Much later, I planted my feet on the shore to enjoy the moment. The waves whispered in the breeze. The sky was milky with a hazy moon; the night was reminiscent of a lazy sauna.

Looking across the water, I saw two dark figures walking from the depths of the lake to the shore. They sauntered out the water, clearly visible and fully clothed. They had not bothered about towels. After a few moments, they wandered off, hand in hand. 

What is it about the water that inspires us? I was so happy to be there, writing scraps of poetry and, perhaps, revelling in the connection we all have to what is the most ancient of our genetic memories. Who knows? Who cares? Only that it was such fun.

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