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Friendships aren’t always what they seem

Norm Foster specializes in sifting through relationships to find comedic nuggets, often the kind steeped in awkwardness. His plays make us laugh while we relate with the characters, seeing parts of ourselves revealed on stage. It’s one of the reasons he’s the most produced of all Canadian playwrights.

Cath Judd (Abby), Tom Smith (Roger), Joe Brenner (Max) and Deb Deckert (Wynn) are friends with a few secrets in the ETC production of The Long Weekend, which opens next week.
Cath Judd (Abby), Tom Smith (Roger), Joe Brenner (Max) and Deb Deckert (Wynn) are friends with a few secrets in the ETC production of The Long Weekend, which opens next week.

The witty banter and verbal jousting for which he’s known will be on display starting next week, as the Elmira Theatre Company presents The Long Weekend, which explores the complications behind marriage and friendships.

The story introduces us to Wynn (Deb Deckert), a psychologist who’s married to Max (Joe Brenner), a lawyer. Wynn’s longtime friend is Abby (Cath Judd), who runs a successful clothing store. Her husband Roger (Thom Smith) is a former math teacher who quit that job to write a screenplay.

The Long Weekend’s comic friction sparks from the fact Max and Roger heartily dislike one another. But they pretend otherwise – at least to each other – because their wives are close friends. Even that relationship, however, isn’t as ideal as it seems at first.

Roger and Abby have gone to visit Max and Wynn for what purports to be a pleasurable weekend at their new house in the country. During the course of the visit, we find out that Max and Abby are having an affair. The couples’ 15-year friendship is about to be put to the test when the sparks fly, the result of truths and deceptions being revealed.

Because this is a Foster play, the revelations offer a chance for laughs, sometimes bitingly so, and a comedy of manners ensues.

“All of Norm Foster’s plays are about human nature and human relationships,” said Rita Huschka, the production’s director. “He makes us laugh at ourselves.

“The Long Weekend is a captivating play about relationships, and how people treat each other. Anyone who’s been married for a long time, or who’s had a couple as friends for a long time, will see themselves in this situation.”

The characters – foibles, warts and all – are what drive a Norm Foster play. A Newmarket, Ont. native, Foster is one of Canada’s most prolific and celebrated playwrights. He’s written more than 40 plays, all of which have been produced. His body of work includes The Melville Boys, The Affections of May and Maggie’s Getting Married.

Foster himself has said he prefers to write about real people with real issues. “I think for the most part, they’re about ordinary people just trying to get by in life. I never set out with a monumental purpose in mind. I’m not trying to teach an audience a lesson or pass along some profound message, because I don’t think I’m qualified. What I am trying to do is make them feel a little better about this world, and that’s not easy these days.”

The Elmira Theatre Company production of The Long Weekend runs Nov. 13-15, Nov. 19-22, and Nov. 26-29 at 76 Howard Ave. Show times are 7 p.m., except Sundays (5 p.m.) and Thursdays (8 p.m.). Tickets are $48 for dinner shows, $18 for the Thursday night performances, available at the Centre in the Square box office in Kitchener by calling 578-1570 or 1-800-265-8977, online at www.centre-square.com.

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