In my books, Amicus Productions’ interpretation of Samuel Taylor’s Sabrina Fair, directed by Victoria Shepherd, deserves 3.5 squawking parrots out of 5.
Sabrina Fair is a Cinderella story about wealth, status and a quest for love. This play follows the life of protagonist Sabrina Fairchild, the daughter of a chauffeur, who finds herself romantically involved with the sons of the wealthy Larabee family – the very family whom her father serves.
Alexis Chubb designed a practical, spaced out American courtyard, complete with a french patio set, a bench, a stone wall, plants and a symmetrical backdrop of suspended wall decor.
Jamie Sample kept the lighting simple, opting for a soft blue hue at more intimate moments of the play and a string of colourful patio lanterns to play up the mood during a party scene.
John Stuart Campbell chose timely songs for intermission and humourous sound effects, especially in accordance with the stereotypical Frenchmen.
Meredith Hubbard amps up the posh atmosphere through her costume design. For example, one of the most colourful characters Julia, played by Heather Goodall, flaunts over the top pink feathered slippers, oversized hangover sunglasses and sparkly accessories. This costume compliments Goodall’s Bette Davis aura, with her dramatic expressions, sultry eye rolls and witchy comments.
Sabrina Fairchild, played by Amy LeBlanc, captures all of the emotions in the play: joy, love, frustration and longing. As Sabrina vacillates, floating through life wanting the world outside her window, the audience openly roots for her to leave her chimney corner and take up the prince at the ball.
It was Chris Coculuzzi who transformed the show into something brilliant. Performing the role of Mr. Larabee’s son Linus, Coculuzzi won me over with his booming volume, eye contact, gestures and levels. He had tough shoes to fill, but this modern day Bogart rose to the challenge.
All in all, the first half of the the romantic comedy was a little far fetched, but the actors worked with what they had, taking predictable jokes and nostalgic dialogue and building up tension throughout the performance to leave the audience wondering: will Sabrina settle and sell out, or will she stay true to her passionate heart?
This play has the potential to illustrate Sabrina’s feminist mantra, but like many of the characters, her desires seem vague. While I found it difficult to associate with any of the characters at first, the latter half of the play filled my creative appetite. The characters became more entertaining, as the actors played off of one another with their jokes and exulted excellent stage movement. The real cherry on top is the adorable ending.
Sabrina Fair runs until Feb. 7, 2015 at The Papermill Theatre. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 416-860-6176 or by visiting www.amicustickets.ca.