Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  

Photo: Allan Mackey

Photo: Allan Mackey

Novel House

By Jayson McDonald

Blacksheep Theatre

Director: Dave Dawson

In Novel House, a family named Novel lives through the highs and lows of daily life, while family patriarch James Novel, a former greeting-card writer, attempts to write the great Canadian novel with a quill pen. The subject matter of said novel is his family. Therefore, James periodically steps out of the action to address the audience. Meanwhile, his ditzy wife, Mary, floats back and forth, incompetent but full of love for her family, and James’ crazy father, Geoffrey, lives through his memories and the ghosts of his past, personified in small appliances and lamps. (Don’t ask.)

Meanwhile, the relatively normal daughter of the house, Rebecca, introduces Thomas, the love of her life, to her parents and grandfather. Closest to a through line in Novel House is the course of the young couple’s romance and future, which follows their engagement, marriage, loss of their first child, separation and reconciliation. And the most — actually, the only — moving moments of this Blacksheep Theatre production are during the well-executed reconciliation between Rebecca (Whitney Richards) and Thomas (Tony Adams).

In general, performances and presentation far outstrip the material. It is always difficult to adapt novels of any kind to the stage, because they must be stripped of much of their nuance and depth. It is equally difficult to pretend to create a play that is the simulation of writing a novel about a family of eccentrics as the chapters of their lives are in process.

While there are some funny sequences, especially such moments as Geoffrey rushing off to a cabinet meeting or the lighted response of one of his imagined friends, the overwhelming sense is that director Dave Dawson and his cast are wasting their talent on pretentious and inconsequential material.

Novel House continues at the Gladstone to October 29.

Director: Dave Dawson

Set: Mark MacDonald

Lighting: Carolyn Barnes

Costumes: Julia Beuneman

Cast:

Rebecca Novel…………………………………………………..Whitney Richards

Geoffrey Novel…………………………………………..………Jeffrey LeFevre

James Novel……………………………………………………..William Beddoe

Mary Novel………………………………………………………Alexis Scott

Thomas Winding………………………………………………….Tony Adams