Ira Levin’s punchy Melodrama, Dr Cook’s Garden, stands the test of time.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

A different take on the apparent perfection of another of his dramas, The Stepford Wives, playwright Ira Levin exposes the weed killer Dr. Cook uses in his garden, the village where he has been the sole physician for more than 30 years.

In Greenfield, the sun seems to shine all the time. Here, only the undeserving and imperfect die young. The rest are nurtured into a peaceful old age by the caring Dr. Cook — the man who has been a second father to Jim Templeton.

But, when Jim returns to celebrate his graduation from medical school, he discovers a problem in Greenfield that could have dire consequences.

Levin’s punchy melodrama, written in 1968, stands the test of time and, as directed by Jim McNabb, this first-class Ottawa Little Theatre production delivers the ambience of a small town while maintaining the tension between the two doctors and the requisite contrasting lightness of the remaining cast members. The production is further enhanced by Margaret Coderre-Williams’ set and lighting.

Barry Daley (stylishly outfitted by costume designer Avalon Fotheringham) in an outstanding performance in the title role, is jovial, villainous, comforting and threatening at will.

As his counterpoint, Cameron Preyde is believable as the young Dr. Tennyson, struggling with how to deal with his fallen idol and go on with his life. (His convincing depiction of convulsions deserves special recognition.)

This production of Dr. Cook’s Garden is compelling and highly entertaining. It continues at Ottawa Little Theatre to November 5, 2011.

Ottawa, Iris Winston

October 20, 2011

Dr Cook’s Garden

at the Ottawa Little Theatre

Dr. Cook’s Garden

By Ira Levin

Director: Jim McNabb

Set and lighting: Margaret Coderre-Williams

Sound; Bradford MacKinlay

Costumes: Avalon Fotheringham

Ottawa Little Theatre

Cast:

Dr. Jim Tennyson…………………………………Cameron Preyde

Bea Schmidt……………………………………….Andrée Benson

Dora Lublow………………………………………Gay Stinson

Elias Hart…………………………………………..Rob Rainer

Dr. Leonard Cook………………………………….Barry Daley


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