Mr. Pim Passes By Delivers an Evening of Lighthearted Fun

Reviewed by Maja Stefanovska

Categories: Community Theatre

Photo: Alan Dean

Milne’s Mr. Pim Passes By is a quaint and funny drawing room farce about the rules we all live by and their more often than not absurd nature. The play is quintessentially early 20th century British and is delightfully sharp. Joe O’Brien’s production for the Ottawa Little Theatre stays true to Milne’s fun, light hearted spirit and, despite some off-putting details about the set, provides the audience with an entertaining evening.

The situation is delightfully ridiculous: Mr. Pim, portrayed by a delightfully befuddled  Barry Caiger, comes to the Marden’s residence in Buckinghamshire with a letter of introduction. Through his confused, babbling stories, the Marden’s learn that Mrs. Olivia Marden’s husband, whom she thought dead, is very much alive, making her a bigamist and George Marden, her very conservative, proper current husband, a sinner in the eyes of, according to him heaven and society. Of course, this is a farce and things aren’t always as simple as they seem at first glance. The story unravels with a case of mistaken identities and misunderstandings to its pleasant conclusion. Add to this a subplot of two young lovers, Dinah Marden and Brian Strange, trying to convince Mr. Marden to let them get married and you have a both absurd and fun situation. Though not as biting as the likes of Noel Coward (whose play Hay Fever was also part of the OLT’s 100th season), this is a delightful, pleasant comedy of manners, perfect for chuckling and relaxing to.

O’Brien’s production transfers the audience to another century with its striking early 1920s atmosphere and pacing. Barry Caiger stole the show as Mr. Pim. He was forgetful, confused, and polite to a fault, while all the time coming off as well meaning. Jenny Sheffield is delightful as the open minded and forward thinking Olivia Marden. She’s a good physical actress and embodies the elegance and and sharp wit of the era. Robert Hicks’ performance as George Marden was a bit uneven, as he couldn’t quite get the pacing of his character down. Katie Norland’s Dinah could have used some better diction, so important in a play as fast-paced and clever as Mr. Pim Passes By. However, William Verrault Milner’s Brian Strange was the surprise of the show. At first, I wasn’t sure if he could pull off the young, optimistic artist, but he grew on me and, I must say, I found myself a little bit in love with Brian by the end.

The set was, for the most part, emblematic of the era the show inhabited. The OLT has a history of producing divine sets and costumes and, as a result, I’ve come to expect a lot. Therefore, little things that I would barely have noticed other places stuck out to me as careless. The walls of the house remained unpainted, which could have been forgiven as a stylistic choice, but there was also a vase of flowers in the background which remained white. This made the set seem unfinished and the rest of the very good set didn’t quite make up for it.

Although there were a few minor glitches and some unevenness in the acting, Ottawa Little Theatre’s Mr. Pim Passes By delivers a great evening of lighthearted entertainment and fun!

Mr. Pim Passes By plays at the Ottawa Little Theatre until December 15, 2012

Cast (in order of appearance)

George Marden, J.P…………………………..Robert Hicks
Brian Strange …………………………………..William Verreault Milner
Anne……………………………………………….Pam Harle
Mr. Carraway Pim……………………………..Barry Caiger
Dinah………………………………………………Katie Norland
Olivia Marden…………………………………..Jenny Sheffield
Lady Marden……………………………………Jane Morris

Crew

Director ……………………………………………Joe O’Brien
Assistants to the Director …………………….Kay O’Hegarty, Michelle O’Brien, Janet Bruce
Set Design…………………………………………Robin Riddihough
Lighting Design…………………………………..John Solman
Sound Design…………………………………….Melinda Ainsworth Roy
Costume Design………………………………….Glynis Ellens
Properties…………………………………………..Barbara Merriam
Stage Manager……………………………………Jim Hogan
Make-up Design………………………………….Bette Lou Armstrong
Scenic Artist………………………………………..Robin Riddihough

 

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