Shuswap Theatre’s latest offering, Perfect Pie, is a bittersweet slice of rural Canadiana that will both charm and challenge audiences.
Set in the rural community of Marmora, Ont., this local production of the Judith Thompson play centres around a reunion of former childhood friends, Patsy and Marie, whose lives diverge following a night of traumatic events. After this, Patsy chooses to stay on the family farm to have a family of her own, while Marie opts to flee, burying her past to pursue a life of celebrity.
The play begins with Patsy, played by Mary Masson, at the kitchen table in her family’s farmhouse, rolling dough for a pie, recording a message for Marie. Some 30 years have passed since Patsy has seen her childhood friend, who fled Marmora in her mid-teens, and Patsy yearns to see her again. Marie, now Francesca, played by Tammi Pretty receives Patsy’s message, as well a pie she sent, and chooses to return home for a visit.
There is a familiar awkwardness as the two old friends stand in Patsy’s kitchen, attempting to reconnect – a process that’s made easier with Patsy’s home baking and a bit of ice wine.
While the two catch up, a parallel story begins in a schoolyard where young Patsy (Ali Foster-Balloun) gets to know her oft-bullied schoolmate Marie (Meaghan Delaney). The two become close friends and develop a bond that may be the closest thing to perfect the two have ever experienced.
Masson is convincing as Patsy – the mother of two who is not as content with her life as she wants to believe. Pretty also hits the mark as the seemingly self-destructive Francesca.
Foster-Balloun and Delaney do more than their share of heavy lifting as young Patsy and Marie. The two had the audience buzzing with admiration during the break, and in wide-eyed silence during the late rising action of the second half.
Directed by Elizabeth Ann Skelhorne, Shuswap Theatre’s production of Perfect Pie is faithful to the source material and delivered the way it was meant to be seen: live on stage. (Don’t waste your time with the 2002 movie of the same name.) The stage settings are detailed and believable, while the lighting and sound were impressive in how they complemented individual scenes while enhancing their mood and intensity.
Perfect Pie is Shuswap Theatre’s entry for the 2018 Okanagan Zone Drama Festival in Vernon. It plays in Salmon Arm until May 12. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and “pay what you can” on Thursday. Tickets are available online at Shuswaptheatre.com, or at Intwined Fibre Arts at 81 Hudson Ave.