“The small things of life were often so
much bigger than the great things . . . the trivial pleasures like cooking, one's home, little poems especially sad ones, solitary walks, funny things seen and overheard."
Inspired by the comic novels of Barbara Pym, Sky Gilbert's latest play uses drag as a way in which to expose the poignant, often hilarious details of sisters in love - with themselves and the very different lives they have chosen to lead. Ed Roy and Gavin Crawford give impeccable performances as they explore opposite ends of the drag spectrum. Crawford's perfectly mannered reserve is matched by Roy's outrageous form of 'hysteria' as he responds to life circumstances that have not brought his character, Penny Pie, as much fulfillment as she might have liked - and at fifty she is not about to give up trying. Pursuing the much younger vicar who has just arrived in town allows Penny to pull out all the stops in a madcap romp through forms of exoticization and racist assumption that shed outrageous light upon ethnic stereotypes that some people tend to rely upon when they are trying to insert themselves into the lives of the 'exotic other.'
Zahir Gilani as Mr. Gupta, the new vicar, gives a strong, sharply conceived performance that allows all three 'women' to revolve around his presence with diverse forms of reserve, gossip, and sexual prowess. A fanciful and hilarious dance around Gilani's bewildered couuch-sitting gaze is a highlight of the evening and reveals the delicate balance Ed Roy is able to achieve as he goes over the top with a complex sequence of choreographed hysteria, yet manages to pull it all off with flying colors. His take on titillating, scarf waving, skirt billowing majesty is priceless beyond belief.
Phillippe Van de Maele Martin as Nora Tweedy is a delightful visitor to the sisters cosy spinsterly home, and presents a wonderful comic contrast to Roy's manic mature queen as he gives the younger woman a somewhat lighter queenly deportment, yet reflects Roy's physicality in subtle ways through mannerism, vocal nuance, and feminine gait.
Sheri Tam's set, wigs, and costumes populate the stage with an impeccable Babrara Pym'esque sense of “The small things of life" - allowing them to appear "so much bigger than the great things . . . the trivial pleasures like cooking, one's home, little poems especially sad ones, solitary walks, funny things seen and overheard.” In Sky Gilbert's hands, these material surroundings complement a seamlessly directed slice of comic writing that begins with a parade of belly laughs and ends with gorgeous, touching speeches from both Crawrford and Roy on the nature of living, loving, loneliness, aging and sexual predation of the most amusing kind.