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Theatre Orangeville welcomes back Norm Foster with They’re Found in Trees

October 20, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

When a play is all about dialogue and contains very little action, what can make it funny? When Norm Foster writes it and makes it hilarious. 

The World Premiere of Norm Foster’s new play here at Theatre Orangeville, They’re Found in Trees is on now and playing until Oct. 30, with the Relaxed Performance on Oct. 26.

Here is the brief: Mitch and William are birder buddies, who have been going to the same spot in the same park for a few years and have settled into a routine that suits them very well. They check out the birds when they hear the calls, searching with their binoculars to see the ones they love best. It costs them $7.50 each to enter the park, every Saturday all these years.

Through their exchange when we first meet them, after they bring in their chairs, binoculars and other gear – well – they have to set things up just so – his chair on that side and the other chair opposite, a little table in between, the conversation wanders in odd directions. At a certain point, they realize that if they invite others to join them, they can call themselves a club and get out of the $7.50 ticket fee each has to pay to come into the park. Mitch gives the club a name and promises to put an ad in a birding magazine.

Sure there will be several people wanting to respond to the advertisement and confident no woman would bother to apply, William and Mitch are very surprised when, on the following Saturday, only one applicant shows up – Paula Bismark.

Ah Norm, how well he holds the two- and three-way conversations and keeps them funny here and thoughtful there; how well he holds our attention right the way through to the next moment, the next mood and all the laughs.

In the course of those conversations, we learn about the loss each one of them has suffered but humour interprets the stories and we are ever reminded that these are three nice people.

Paula arrives equipped and informed but completely inexperienced in the grand adventure that is birding. What enthralls us now is the flow of the trio’s comments, how they go off track and how each of the characters pass their stories among them. A lady is introduced to two men and attitudes change or do they?

Norm Foster frequently presents more questions than answers, leaving his audiences entertained but with food for thought as a philosophical take-out. When a relationship goes sour, do we turn bitter or look anew? When we realize we are 40-something, are we afraid of never finding another chance to say “I love you” and grab at the next possibility?

The Citizen had the chance to talk to Mr. Foster at the after-show reception of the play to ask him a bit about the whys and hows of it. What made him want to deliver a play that is so definitively a conversation between “nice people,” as he calls them?

“I wanted to challenge myself to write a play like this and keep it lively and interesting,” he said, having written 70-plus plays. “Much like my play On a First Name Basis, which is basically a conversation between two people [a famous writer and his maid], I wanted to write dialogue with these characters sitting and then simply standing up, facing each other, with just the conversation between them. It is a challenge for the actors too and this cast is doing a fantastic job.”

Reid Janisse plays the role of Mitchell and we caught him between conversations with other people.

“It’s the wonderful flow of the dialogue that makes it possible to do such a funny show,” he exclaimed. “The tempo, catching the peak of one laugh and delivering the next one really works well. We’re having a great time doing this and the audience was wonderful.”

Robin Schisler was effervescent as well, saying, “This is so much fun. Norm’s play is fantastic and we’re having such a good time doing it.”

By the bye, the reception was catered so nicely by Lavender Blue, a thanks to them for the delights on the tables.

Back on stage, Beckie Morris designed the set, almost a cartoon of trees and Blue Moon, exactly what suits the play, not exactly understated but not a distraction either, just a beautiful compliment.

Lights up and lights down but there is always more to it than that and returning to Theatre Orangeville, Rebecca Picherack has designed lighting that invites us in and frames the action.

Last but never least, David Nairn as the director has given the actors and the play all that they needed, as we are treated to characters that are so well rounded and believable, rising to the requirements and riding the flow of Mr. Foster’s clever and engaging comedy, his quick turns of mood and energy, without missing a step. Actors agree that the secret to doing Norm Foster well is to follow the script precisely. Then all will be well, will be terrific.

And it is. On until October 30; don’t miss it.

For everything else you need: tickets to the show, subscription to see the others, the 50/50 draw is back on and tickets are available for the upcoming ‘Twas the Night Gala on November 12, go to or call the lovely people at the Box Office which is also open at 87 Broadway in the Town Hall. The telephone number is 519-942-3423.

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