The world premiere of “Bed and Breakfast” currently running in the Firehall is, for my money, the hit of the season so far at the 1000 Islands Playhouse. It’s billed as a comedy and certainly has many funny moments, but is basically the very human and sometimes touching story of Brett (Andrew Kushnir) who inherits the family home and his partner Drew (Paul Dunn), who move from Toronto to a small Ontario town to set up a B&B. These two terrific actors also play a number of peripheral characters.
When the play began I did an internal eye-roll and thought we were in for a cutesy string of stereotypes. After a few minutes, though, something clicked and I realized the story and relationship of Brett and Drew is the core of the play, while the peripheral characters deepen and support the central duo.
This is a true ensemble piece in that the playwright Mark Crawford, director Ashlie Corcoran and the two excellent actors, along with a great creative team, have come up with a performance style that enables us to see all the characters as three dimensional. The staging, actually complex choreography, with its spins and jumps to signal character changes is wonderfully creative and the pace never lags. We become genuinely involved with this “out” couple and root for them to succeed.
Dana Osborne’s neutral and flexible set of plain walls, a couple of doors and abstract roof lines is a perfect canvas for Rebecca Picherack’s sensitive and definitive lighting. John Gzowski’s opening music is excellent, as is his sound. Since there are no props, sound often supplies them, although we don’t really notice till the impeccably timed potato chip crunch. Miss Osborne’s costumes are functional in shades of grey, black, and cream and we’re hardly aware of the changes.
These two actors do a remarkable job of creating a number of believable characters and not only Brett and Drew. Mr. Kushnir is especially good as Dustin, a lonely teenager who loves to bake. The scene with his mother (Mr. Dunn) is very powerful. As Cody, Brett’s monosyllabic nephew, Mr. Dunn is terrific. Cody and Justin’s scenes together are wonderful, and a lesson in comic timing. By the way, don’t worry about keeping the many characters straight. What’s going on is always very clear and firmly anchored by Drew and Brett.
“Bed and Breakfast” is funny, touching and very human from the opening night of the B&B, through the Santa Parade, to the revelation of family secrets. In looking for a house, Drew and Brett find a home. My companion said, “Isn’t it exciting when you see a really good play!” I second that!
“Bed and Breakfast” by Mark Crawford
Runs through September 13 tkts: 613- 382-7020
Producer: 1000 Islands Playhouse
Drew: Paul Dunn
Brett: Andrew Kushnir
Director: Ashlie Corcoran
Set & Costume Designer: Dana Osborne
Sound Designer: John Gzowski
Lighting Designer: Rebecca Picherack
Stage Manager: Michael Barrs
Assistant Director: Krista Colosimo