Comedy meets universal themes in Mercury Players show in Duncan

The Mercury Players have chosen a perennial winner in Norm Foster’s Mending Fences, at the Mercury Theatre starting Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

The Mercury Players have chosen a perennial winner in Norm Foster’s Mending Fences, at the Mercury Theatre starting Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

The play continues Nov. 25, 26, Dec. 1, 2 and 3, also at 7:30 and for those who don’t like to drive at night, there’s a matinee on Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. as well.

Canada’s playwright, Norm Foster, has penned a hilarious, yet touching show about the attempts at reconciliation between Harry, a single man (played by Michael Terides), and his son Drew (Brandon Newall), whom he hasn’t seen in 13 years. Harry’s girlfriend Gin (Leslie Sanchez) is also along to offer her own brand of help as the guys try to mend fences.

It’s set in rural Saskatchewan, but its tale of the trouble of becoming too isolated is universal. The rough-edged father who tries to control his wife and son and only ends up by driving them away is now confronted with Drew again after more than a decade has passed. The younger man is no angel either and, unemployed, shows up at his old home.

Gin has to deal with them, for better or worse.

Foster is at his lively best here and there’s plenty of every kind of humour but, just as in real life, it often gets funnier when the knife slices close.

Director Marinus Vesseur, said he’s delighted to see a Norm Foster play at the Mercury Theatre again.

“We were very successful two years ago with Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun, which was also a Foster play. And so I asked them to send me something similar: a ‘dramedy’ that had the same kind of heart at its core. They sent me this one, and I read it and saw that the father-son situation is great theatre.

“I hope that the audience is going to like the element of human connection because men, as always, have trouble expressing what they feel about things to the point that some things are just not said that should be said. That is what Mending Fences is really all about. These guys don’t know what their feelings are and they can’t express them and they get into all sorts of trouble. And, because of that, this is about reconciliation, too.”

Vesseur didn’t have any actors in mind when he called for auditions for Mending Fences.

“I went with an open mind. I think we had 13 or 14 people audition, plenty of people to choose from, which was great,” he said.

“I think I have a lucky hand in this cast.”

This production gives theatre fans their first look at Brandon Newell in a dramatic role. “That’s been a bit of work but he’s getting it. Every time I see more from him. Apparently he needs his time to digest it but then it comes out perfect. But, they are all hard workers; that’s so good. And because this is my first time directing on my own, my wife said: ‘Pick people you know you’re going to have fun with, and that’s of course what they are’,” Vesseur said.

Noah Robertson is making his debut as stage manager with this show.

“It has been an experience for sure. The last time I was in theatre was in middle school. I’d done a few plays before but I hadn’t been involved in theatre since 2008. However, through the Shawnigan and Mercury Players, I met Marinus and he offered me the position of stage manager and it has been great for me. I haven’t been used to working with a collaborative team before so I have been learning a lot of skills that way.”

He has the advantage of working with actors who know the ropes.

“They are all really experienced. These actors have all done four or five or more plays and their growth in this during the last few weeks has been amazing to watch. They’re getting to the point that, when the show happens, they could almost do it blindfolded. They’ll be comfortable with it and I think the audience is going to sense that,” Robertson said.

Tickets are $20 for adults, or $15 for students and seniors, available from Ten Old Books, and First Chiropractic Clinic in Duncan, Beachology in Cowichan Bay or by calling 250-510-1746.

There’s a special price of two tickets for $25 for the Thursday or Friday show.