Waiting for a live performance to begin, members of an audience may find themselves examining the set for a good few minutes or so – some invite more curiosity than others. The set-up for Bedside Manners, with its multi-levels and many doors was intriguing and, I thought, a bit disconcerting. A short little bed predominated each side of the set and reminded me of the truncated ones often seen in historic house-museums where they point out that people used to be much shorter. And for the first few minutes of the show, those beds continued to be distracting.
However, once Bedside Manners got into full swing, the unfolding of the evening’s totally fun, farcical, entertainment obliterated that distraction. By the play’s end, one could appreciate just what an impressive job the set-designer and builders had done – creating in a small space, the bedrooms, hallways, restaurant, foyer, etc. of the seedy country inn that was the backdrop for the outrageous comings and goings of the guests.
Bedside Manners is a belly-laugh sort of show, a perfect pre-spring pick-me-up. Peter Leack plays the central character of temporary inn-keeper Ferris with remarkable energy and humour. Often-bewildered, but mainly in-command of the situation, Ferris is opportunistic but compassionate. He shines a light on both the shortcomings and more endearing qualities of each of the other characters as “husbands, wives and lovers in assorted compromising situations” storm from one deceit to another.
The rest of the cast (Harry Edison, Greg Mizon, Andrea Edison and Jayme Cannon) does a fine job of keeping up with Leack’s lead, each maintaining some likeable charm as their less admirable qualities are revealed. Sally (Andrea Edison) becomes steadily more hilarious with each gin & tonic consumed over the course of the evening.
Bedside Manners is a lot of fun, and it’s a play wherein nuances of pacing are sure to become more fine-tuned with each performance, so it is likely to become increasingly outrageous with each showing.
Bedside Manners was written by Derek Benfield and is Directed by Barbara Warnock. It continues at the Aylmer Old Town Hall Theatre, Feb 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 with Thur – Sat shows at 8pm and Sun show at 2pm. Find out more by calling 519-773-3372 or visiting http://www.aylmertheatre.ca/.