Love, laughs and . . . sex on the radio? The Ottawa Little Theatre’s production of Bedtime Stories delivers all this and more. Written by Norm Foster, one of Canada’s most produced playwrights, Bedtime Stories is a fun comedy with some surprisingly poignant moments that unfold in a series of six vignettes.
Though the six scenes seem unrelated, each with a different set of characters, all take place in bedrooms (hence the title) and all involve situations of vulnerability and intimacy. As the show goes on we also learn that the characters are connected to each other in all kinds of wacky ways.
The writing is uneven from scene to scene, some sincere, others straight-up silly and in general some are just stronger than the others. Director Brian Cano and the cast deserve props for not only navigating Foster’s inconsistent script but bringing out the best in it.
In one of the better scenes Christopher Glen plays an aging shock rocker who’s busy turning back into an average guy after a concert when a super fan played by Tina Prud’homme storms into his hotel room keen to “get to know him better.” In another of the better scenes a woman reminisces with a dying man about their short-lived high school romance, the two of them temporarily escaping the troubles of their current lives. Though Prud’homme slightly exaggerates the awkwardness of the situation at the start of the scene with too much nervous laughter it’s not long before the actors settle into an easy chemistry.
It’s also worth mentioning that some of the comedic set-ups tend toward the outrageous which may test the patience of some viewers. If you come to the theatre in a fairly good mood though, they can be pretty entertaining. Take for example, the first scene where an older couple sign up to make love on the radio to help pay for their daughter’s tuition.
Charged with the task of juggling three roles apiece in six different scenarios the cast does an impressive job of convincingly changing character in each scene. Christopher Torti adds an everyman charm to all of his rather greasy characters while adopting different voices to distinguish between them. Bill Milner strikes a comic chord opposite his cast mates in every scene he’s in whether playing a hapless husband, an unlikely thief or a mover with a bad back. Erin McNamara keeps things sunny with a clownish silliness drawing the most laughs as Sandy the clumsy stripper.
Patti Vopni’s set design is modest but effective in taking us through various bedroom situations. Glynis Ellens does a fine job with costumes that effectively transform the actors in each scene. Frank Donato (lighting) and Bradford MacKinlay (sound design) also turn in solid contributions to round out the production’s smooth and integrated technical elements.
Overall Bedtime Stories is light summer fare that packs lots of humour and humanity in equal measure.