The cast of Bedfull of Foreigners

The cast of Bedfull of Foreigners

Big laughs, plenty of fun

A Bedfull of Foreigners may have a few flaws – but timidity is not among them. For that, comedy-fanciers at Coast Capital Playhouse this summer must be grateful, as nothing could kill the common or garden British bedroom farce faster.

Apart from a couple of adroitly-judged performances, the latest production by Ellie King’s Royal Canadian Theatre Company band of professionals is more spirited than subtle. But that still means a full evening of fun and some big laughs for fans of the idiom, in spite of sometimes slow exposition and over-the-top playing.

At last Wednesday’s preview, a healthy-sized house was all guffaws and giggles at the mayhem spilling out from the tawdry confines of a rundown hotel on the French-German border.

In Dave Freeman’s funny, efficient script, this particular guest house includes all the requisite ingredients – goofy manager; hopeless handyman; hapless Everyman; leggy, bustier-clad sexpot; hot-under-the-collar hypocrite; and, not one, but two frustrated wives.

And that’s just in one room.

Poor Stanley, a British out-of-season holidaymaker, probably should have gone to Skegness instead – as he bemoans – rather than venture into this particular corner of the Continent.

Sam Gordon, as the none-too-bright Stanley, has mobile-faced goonery and typically British sheepishness down to an art – good news for a brand of comedy that relies on the ability to convey embarrassment and desperation. Gordon’s range of reactions when confronted by sexual temptation are particularly funny.

Walter Ekins, as Claude, has that other staple of British farce, the pompous bully, down to a T. Although Ekins’ projection is sometimes a tad low, he has a great line in seething impatience and threatening bluster – which quickly gives way to oily unctuousness whenever Claude is confronted by evidence of his own misdeeds.

Wendy Bollard delivers a seamless, hilarious performance as Helga, the former nurse who has the misfortune to be married to Claude. Bollard captures every nuance of the ridiculous in the role – from Helga’s hearty calisthenics and no-nonsense manner, to her ill-considered attempt to play the ‘tart’. Yet she also manages to make her a real, flesh-and-blood woman who can enlist audience sympathy.

Gary Peterman provides great presence and a laid-back touch as Karak, hotel caretaker of indeterminate nationality and no apparent job skills. The sly, slothful Karak – it’s clear – excels only as a bribe-extracting con-man, and Peterman mines the character for all its comedic potential.

Bret Harrison has his share of strong moments as Heinz, the hotel’s reluctant, Austrian-Swiss manager. He invests the failed medical student – whose downfall is a roving eye – with a floppy-haired, stiff-jointed awkwardness that reaches its peak in Heinz’ attempt to perform a song-and-dance number from an early German talkie.

Nicole Smashnuk, as Stanley’s neurotic wife, is effective in her quieter moments, particularly whenever Brenda is almost swayed by the clumsy passes of the randy Heinz, though her rapport with the audience is sometimes undermined by a tendency to shriek at the least provocation, rather than a more subtle depiction of Brenda’s irrationality.

Similarly, Becky Hachey’s extravagant postures as Claude’s ‘bit on the side’ approach surreal cartoonishness, when saucy is really all that’s called for. But her sledgehammer delineation of Simone does succeed in driving the plot and much of the insanity at key points in the second act.

A Bedfull of Foreigners continues until Aug. 28. For tickets, call 604-536-7535 or visit www.rctheatreco.com

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor delivering “virtual” State of the City Address on Tuesday. (Screen shot)
Surrey Mayor says city is ‘earning accolades from near and far’

Doug McCallum delivered his second State of the City Address on Tuesday since being elected in 2018

North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex. (Photo: larkgroup.com)
North Surrey rink, Newton playground earn B.C. excellence awards

Awards presented by BC Recreation and Parks Association

The George Massey Tunnel will be closed overnight May 28 and 29 to test the tunnel’s fire suppression system and overhead lane control signals. (Black Press Media file photo)
Overnight Massey Tunnel closures coming May 28, 29

Closure to allow safe testing of tunnel’s fire suppression system and overhead lane control signals

Missing Surrey man Bernard Grempel. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Surrey RCMP seeks help to find missing man

Bernard Grempel was reported missing on Sunday and hasn’t been seen since Friday

Members of Whalley Legion Junior Band at an event in the early 1980s. (Facebook photo)
SURREY NOW & THEN: When the city’s ‘official band’ marched with Whalley Legion title

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites, events and people

Troy Patterson, a Cadboro Bay 15-year-old, got a virtual meeting with B.C.’s environment minister months after he started an online petition calling for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to stop. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
B.C. teen’s 23,000-name Coastal GasLink petition gets him an audience with the minister

15-year-old Saanich high school student and George Heyman discussed project for about 30 minutes

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

Those who disobey could be subject to a $230 fine

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Over the years, police have worked with sketch artists to draw what the boys could have looked like at the times of their deaths. (Vancouver Police Department)
DNA breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered Vancouver boys, 7 and 8

Forensic analysts are working to identify relatives of the children, whose bodies were found in Stanley Park in 1953

Livestock competitions have been part of the Pacific National Exhibiton for more than a century. (Maple Ridge News files)
B.C. provides $50 million to keep major tourist attractions going

Tour bus companies also eligible for latest COVID-19 aid

Dr. Euiseok Kim is the medical director of the new Abbotsford post-COVID-19 recovery clinic. (Submitted)
Post-COVID-19 recovery clinic opens in Abbotsford

New facility following model of first clinic which opened in Surrey

Derek Descoteau with his trusty dog Harvey. (Photo submitted)
Friends provide continuing comfort for family in wake of unresolved senseless B.C. murder

Case remains before the courts five years after Derek Descoteau’s abrupt stabbing death in Chemainus

Most Read