Norm Foster play on stage at Victoria Playhouse until Aug. 3
© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE
Robert Castle (Jeremie Saunders) and Holly Fitch (Rebecca Griffin) appear in a rehearsal scene from Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun. The show plays June 26 to Aug. 3 at the Victoria Playhouse this summer.
Shaved a cool 10 to 15 seconds off my trip to Victoria-By-The-Sea thanks to Plan B.
And you know, although there’s something that feels a little New Brunswicky with how fresh and uncompromising the highway is dug, glorious Island views await as you round those obtuse-ified bends.
Earlier this summer, a friend thought that the province might just switch community signage and pretend that Victoria-by-the-Sea was Cornwall for the visit by the namesake Royals.
There’s a little well-intentioned deception in the show at the Victoria Playhouse right now, too. Actually, the heavy sign on the Number 1 between the two communities declaring “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from all sin” could also apply.
Generally, I am not enthusiastic about Norm Foster scripts, as they sometimes feel disposable and a bit formulaic. But here, with Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun, he aims high, and throws everything into the mix: cancer, pregnancy, death and God and stuff. Yet with the enormous themes, the play is still smallish — in a good way.
Director Ted Price keeps it snappy, but still human. A quality set, tight and simple lighting cues and solid pop songs in between scenes fit nicely with the low-key tone.
Jeremie Saunders plays Robert, the central character who suffered a brain injury as a child and is now, as an adult, somewhat slow and naive. In this role, Saunders is outstanding. He’s affable and funny and pensive and observant.
Importantly, Saunders avoids caricature, which is always a sticky area when playing an intellectually disadvantaged character. Here, he elegantly finds the personality beyond the affliction. It’s a seriously beautiful performance.
Cathy Grant plays his protective mother. The two have a soft, sincere relationship on stage. She has a big, fragile heart, with just the slightest bit loving connive. Though she seems to have nurtured a no-yell environment, her ability to warmly deliver cutting remarks while cooing to a baby is a classic move from the passive aggressive playbook. We understand her to have been a woman of faith in the past, though this has been shaken as we get to know her current situation.
Robert befriends a gal named Holly, played by newcomer Rebecca Griffin. Holly is a sort of realist, and we’re given the impression she could be a bit more ambitious. She’s not fatally unmotivated, just looking for her calling. In this case, she did not choose the plan B route.
Mark Fraser has a bunch of funny moments as Simon, Holly’s ex-lover. His flakiness about not being part of her pregnancy and his transatlantic pretentiousness should completely turn him off from the audience. But he’s just a lust-filled fool with an education, and somehow he’s forgivable.
Mark Stevenson, as the slightly aloof family doctor, becomes a sounding board for the weightier problems. He’s not cold, just matter of fact. These minor imperfections in the characters prevent the story from becoming too heavy-handed. There’s the tiniest bit of selfishness in even the kindest gestures. Selective memory is an effective tool to moving forward.
At A Glance; Fast facts
What: Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun.
Where: Victoria Playhouse.
When: Until Aug. 3.
Of note: Exceptional acting by Jeremie Saunders.
Lennie MacPherson, a Charlottetown-based writer, actor and musician, writes theatre reviews for The Guardian during the summer months. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.