For the Ottawa Citizen.
It sounds so mealy-mouthed to say a show is all right. But that pretty much describes Dreams of Whales, the opening production in New Theatre of Ottawa’s first full season and its debut presentation as one of Arts Courts resident companies.
A new play by Ottawa-based playwright Dean Hawes, the show features a script and performances that are the sources of both its strengths and weaknesses.
John Koensgen, who also directs the play assisted by Janet Irwin, plays Walter, a retired dentist. Walter is an uncertain fellow who never forgets to floss his teeth, even when he’s eating lunch on someone else’s porch. “I’m a practical man, not given to introspection,” he says early in the play.
The owner of that farmhouse porch is Ruth. Played by Mary Ellis, she’s a recent widow whose life seems a bottomless well of pain and anger. Since the death of her husband, she has chucked all her belongings out the front door (Sarah Waghorn’s set is a glorious jumble of household flotsam) and now rarely ventures outside her house.
Walter has loved Ruth since they were young chums, and now that he has returned from the city to his old childhood stomping grounds, he hangs around her house, mooning over her but afraid to state his affections.
Into this situation step Ruth’s two adult children, who return from the city to their mother’s farm when they hear from Walter of her odd behaviour.(……..)