Emilia Di Luca
Inside Factory Theatre, programs for Daniel MacIvor’s Bingo! rest on a table. Resembling both a yearbook and a textbook, the program, in fact, captures the play’s spirit. A yearbook, because the front pages feature old high school photos of the cast, who I must admit, sport awkward, regretful ‘dos. A textbook because the cover is the canvas of a bored student who doodles arrows, hearts, and a lighthouse—a symbol of Cape Breton.
In Cape Breton, five classmates reunite: Nurk (John Beale), Bitsy (Sarah Dodd), Dookie (David Keeley), Heffer (Dov Mickelson), and Boots (Jane Spidell). During their 30th high school reunion, the group makes their way from the hotel bar to the hotel room. Set and Costume Designer, Lindsay Anne Black, optimizes the stage; she stretches the wood paneled wall onto the floor, which later acts as a boardwalk. Within the impressive set, friendships and flames rekindle as the forty-somethings realize that everyday can be the first day of the rest of their lives.
At one point, Dookie debates whether we can re-experience the feelings of our “firsts”—first kiss, first love, first drunken night. Under the direction of Nigel Shawn Williams, MacIvor’s comedy reunites its spectators with their infamous teenage years. Bingo! comes as close as it gets to delivering the feelings of those “firsts” with its comedic timing.
MacIvor sets the scenes, and Williams brings them to life, amplifying every awkward glance, silence, and movement. When pink-purple lights spill onto the bar’s dance floor, Bitsy and Boots stare straight-ahead chugging their beers simultaneously. Williams sets the awkward first-school-dance atmosphere beautifully. By the end, Bitsy and Nurk exchange the same silent chugging ritual; the pair set the infamously unromantic super-nervous-first-date-I-wanna-kiss-you-so-bad mood. The only sound interrupting the brilliantly awkward silence between Bitsy and Nurk is the bubbling laughter between spectators.
The cynical, but sentimental punch lines carry a flavour that is very Eastern Canadian. MacIvor’s Cape Breton humour translates well with its Toronto audience, especially paired with the music selection of Sound Designer, Verne Good, which stirs memories of the 80s between scenes.
Also between scenes: monologues. MacIvor notes in previous interviews that he added monologues to layer once archetypical characters. The change of tone, from silly to serious, deepens the play’s characters and heightens the play’s humour.
The result? A winning play, Bingo!
Bingo! runs until June 1st at Factory Theatre. For more information visit http://www.factorytheatre.ca. For tickets, contact Factory Theatre’s box office: 416 504 9971.