Kick back and prepare yourself for gut busting laughter as Norm Foster’s uplifting comedy Hilda’s Yard comes to Drayton next week.Premiered in Fredericton just three years ago, the play highlights the challenges of being ready to be an empty-nester when your kids need the comfort of home.
Enter the Fluck family, where Hilda and Allan are settling into life without kids in the house. Portrayed by Patti Allan and David Nairn, they’re in for a shock when those pesky kids, Janey and Gary, come flying back to the coop.
Janey (Mairi Babb) discovers a life as a housewife is no life for her. And Gary (Alan Kliffer) is just having a rough go at adulthood.
Gary’s girlfriend, Bobbi Jakes (Emma Slipp), and smooth neighbourhood bookie Beverly Woytowich (Brad Austin) get mixed into the kerfuffle, and add a little mess of their own.
“I can tell you why I resonate with it which is because it’s Canadian and it’s Norm Foster. I love the 1956 setting, that sort of nostalgic thing,” director Mark DuMez said.
The cast and crew are mostly Ontarians, with a few British Columbia folks in for good measure – DuMez included. Normally found on Vancouver Island, he’s been the artistic director of Chemainus Theatre Festival since 2009. Allan is also from BC, known by theatre audiences there and for her film and TV work. Slipp also hails from BC.
They’re also no strangers to Foster’s work, with Nairn previously performing in The Love List and On a First Name Basis, and Austin in Melville Boys and Bedtime Stories.
DuMez says the audience will find laughs in the “what if” scenarios of the characters, particularly Gary whose dreams are quickly dismissed by his father as high in the sky ideas.
“There’s broad, wonderful comedy, there’s love interests that are crossed. There’s the empty nesters who are trying to keep an empty nest but it quickly gets filled up again,” DuMez said.
“But inside of all that terrific comedy is some really interesting heart and a couple themes that we should look at. When is a child grown up enough to make their decisions? When do you allow them to fail? How do you celebrate being in the golden years of your life?”
Directing a play by arguably Canada’s most iconic playwright is a welcome challenge. He says he loves the timing and rhythm of comedy, but most importantly, making other people laugh.
“Taking all of that and making sure what we have are real human beings at the centre, that they live in extreme situations in a play like this at times but they’re real living human beings with real needs,” DuMez explains.
DuMez says he hopes audience members walk away with a feeling of familiarity to the Fluck family, and a night full of laughs at the all too real trials and tribulations they undergo. When it comes down to it, it’s a story about family.
“This man just really wants to sit with his wife and watch TV together and enjoy the hard work that he’s done. He wants to cherish the time they have together. All those things I think speak to what I know of the Drayton audience,” DuMez said.
Hilda’s Yard runs July 2 through July 18. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Drayton Festival Theatre, online at www.draytonfestivaltheatre.com or by calling the box office at (519) 638-5555 or toll free at 1-855-drayton (372-9866).