Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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Photo: Ottawa Little Theatre

The moral of the story is that too much heavy drama is bad for your health.

Making a joke about the dangers of being influenced by overdoses of Ibsen, Chekhov, Tolstoy and Strindberg might be sustainable for a one-act play, but the central gag of this parody wears a little thin through a full-length comedy.

But, director Sarah Hearn gives it her all in the Ottawa Little Theatre/Tara Players co-production of Lennox Robinson’s 1933 domestic comedy Drama at Inish. (It is rumoured that the playwright’s theatrical birth came after seeing a traveling theatre troupe perform an Ibsen play in his native Dublin, so one can assume he is poking fun at himself.)

In an effort to maximize the humour in the play, Hearn pushes the melodrama button hard, as cast members emote, swoon, beat their heads against mantlepieces and raise trembling hands to fevered brows.

The temperature rises as the serious drama brought to the unsophisticated seaside town of Inish plays to packed houses. Dramatic events move off stage as community members examine the futility of their lives, revive personal tragedies (real or imagined), and attempt suicide (unsuccessfully). The local MP even votes his conscience and defeats the government after seeing a performance of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People.

The only answer for the hotelier and pavilion owner (a strong performance from Mike Kennedy) is to pay off the acting company and return to less demanding entertainment such as vulgar comics and the circus — not to mention bringing a couple of romances to satisfying conclusions and normality back to people’s lives.

Characterizations are generally as convincing as possible, given the nature of the script, ranging from highly effective to adequate caricatures and all technical aspects enhance the show, originally entitled Is Life Worth Living? My question is: Is this play worth doing?

Drama at Inish continues at Ottawa Little Theatre to April 12.

Drama at Inish

By Lennox Robinson

Ottawa Little Theatre/Tara Players co-production

Director: Sarah Hearn

Set: Robin Riddihough

Lighting: David Magladry

Sound: Mike Heffernan

Costumes: Monica Browness

Cast:

Lizzie Twohig…………………………………………Margaret Harvey-O’Kelly

Helena…………………………………………………Susanna Doherty

Christine Lambert……………………………………..Dana Truelove

Eddie Twohig………………………………………….Kurt Shantz

John Twohig………………………………………… Mike Kennedy

Constance Constantia…………………………………Cristina Kindl

Hector De La Mare……………………………………Michael Guest

Annie Twohig…………………………………………Janet Uren

Peter Hurley…………………………………………..Patrick Cullen

Michael (the boots)…………………………………..Andy Moggridge

John Hegarty…………………………………………John Gauthier

William Slattery………………………………………Elie Dib

Tom Mooney…………