If Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii doesn’t have you chortling within the first 15 minutes, your funny bone may be broken.
This hilarious farce, by Canadian playwright Allan Stratton, kicks off the 17th season of Lacombe’s much-loved Cow Patti Theatre Company and is perfectly performed by the cast of A-list actors.
Doris Chisholm (Susan Greenfield) is a successful advice columnist who decides to fake a sick day and spend some time with her recently neglected husband. However, her husband Edgar Chisholm (Troy O’Donnell) has plans of his own.
Tired of being ignored by Doris who has been busy lately with work and travel, he brings home desperate Harlequin novelist Vivian Bliss (Valerie Barrett). The pair make plans for a weekend romance, but soon run into complications when it becomes apparent that Doris is not on her scheduled weekend trip.
That’s only where the confusion begins. As more and more curious visitors show up at the Chisholm’s door, things take a turn for the kooky.
Doris and her growing list of guests are confronted with a ‘torn’ father seeking advice (Brian Young), a nosy journalist (Carmen Paterson), an irate editor (Darla Biccum) and a long lost son (Sawyer Kist) who isn’t quite sure who he belongs to. While the turmoil grows, connections between the visitors begin to appear offering a slim chance at clearing the mess up before the end of the night.
Audiences will be in stitches watching the antics of these characters as they come up with zany explanations and excuses for each other, create even more complex problems for themselves and dart around the stage into different rooms in hopes of avoiding each other.
In the midst of all the chaos going on the Chisholm’s home, Vivian continues work on her latest romance novel, Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii. Often oblivious to what is going on around her while at the same time drawing inspiration heavily from the actual events taking place, Vivian spends much of the play lost in the world of her novel.
Veteran Cow Patti actress Barrett commented on what it was like playing Vivian Bliss, easily the oddest in a cast of oddball characters.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Barrett. “It’s really freeing to be able to just ‘play’ all the time.”
“That’s the thing with Vivian, she is just so positive and playful and you don’t often get the chance to play characters like that.”
As Vivian spends much of her time acting out the adventures of Nurse Jane, Barrett needed to find a balance between playing Vivian as Vivian and Vivian as Nurse Jane.
“It was a lot of trial and error from the beginning of the rehearsal process,” said Barrett.
“At first I was making the personalities extremely split. There was always two different voices. It was Vivian versus Nurse Jane. But eventually you have to meld them together. There has to be a bit of Vivian in Nurse Jane and there has to be a bit of Nurse Jane in Vivian.”
The story of Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii moves along at a comfortable pace with a heavy hand of shenanigans thrown in to keep the audience smiling, but not too much to annoy viewers. Use of the stage is excellent and the ‘chase through many doors gag’, a common sight in comedies, is used to terrific effect.
Director AnnaMarie Lea said she had produced Nurse Jane goes to Hawaii before and this makes for her fourth time and her second time in Lacombe. She said she enjoys the play because it is a Canadian play and a different kind of farce.
“I think it is very intelligently written,” said Lea. “What I like about this farce is that it doesn’t deal over and over and over again with sex. That’s the initial part of it but it becomes a lot about family.”
Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii plays from now until Dec. 15 at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club.
For tickets, call 403-782-2294 or 403-782-3956.