Monday, December 4, 2023

Play finds humour in the pursuit of true love

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Starring in Howick Little Theatre’s production of Old Love are actors, from left, Henry Warner, Amy Cotter and Mark Bishop. Photo supplied Howick Little Theatre

It’s a tale as old as time itself.

Two people meet in a chance encounter, and while one of them is smitten from the start, the other quickly forgets the whole thing.

That’s the situation young Bud Mitchell finds himself in as one of the characters in acclaimed Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s Old Love.

Directed by Tracey Holdsworth, the heart-warming romantic comedy is Howick Little Theatre’s (HLT) final production for 2023 and it’s a much-needed gentle story to see out the year.

The play features a cast of four actors, who are to be commended for playing multiple characters so flawlessly on the minimalist set.

Young Bud, played by Henry Warner, is an eager “road warrior” salesman for a company in 1980s Canada.

He’s married to devoted wife Kitty, portrayed by Amy Cotter.

Older Bud is played by HLT regular Mark Bishop, and Anna Baird portrays his sassy and sarcastic love interest Molly Graham.

Each actor brings substantial sincerity and polished comedic timing to their roles.

Bud falls head over heels for Molly after meeting her at an office Christmas party.

Unfortunately, both are already married, and there’s also the minor detail that Molly doesn’t exactly feel the same way as Bud.

He’s captured by her quick wit and intelligence and he’s so swept away that once he’s divorced and learns Molly’s husband Arthur has died, he’s prepared to make a move in a situation that couldn’t be more inappropriate.

What Bud lacks in tact and the ability to take a hint, he more than makes up for in persistence and old-fashioned charm.

Warner and Bishop portray a Bud who’s down-to-earth without a mean bone in his body, while Baird delivers a hysterical performance as Molly, a woman worn down by life, but who wants to rekindle her spark.

Cotter’s Kitty and young Molly are women determined to make the most of the cards they’re dealt, and Bishop’s older Bud will do whatever it takes to win the heart of the woman of his dreams.

Much of the story’s humour stems from Bud’s innocent attempts to impress Molly and his complete blindness to her disinterest.

The lives of the characters become increasingly intertwined as the years progress.

Loyalties are questioned, and at one point the police are called, but the constant theme throughout is of undiminished love.

The birth of a child adds a new dimension to one couple’s lives as well as being a source of great heartache.

The play builds to a touching conclusion as Molly reveals in a moment of true openness and vulnerability the real reason she’s always rebuffed Bud.

Old Love is a play about romance, commitment, respect, the beauty of fate when stars align, and it doesn’t disappoint.

  • Old Love
    Directed by Tracey Holdsworth
    Howick Little Theatre, 1 Sir Lloyd Drive, Pakuranga
    Season: November 11 to December 2, with shows at 8pm, and a 2pm matinee on November 19

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