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Bed and Breakfast: surprisingly tender and funny

Mathew Hulshof and Chris Periera keep the laughs hopping
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REVIEW

Bed and Breakfast

Theatre Network

Runs until Sunday, Dec. 8

At The Roxy on Gateway

8529 Gateway Blvd.

Tickets: $28 to $32 at theatrenetwork.ca

I rarely have a desire to see a play a second time. Theatre Network’s new production, Bed and Breakfast, is the exception.

Written by Mark Crawford and starring Mathew Hulshof and Chris Pereira, this full-throttle two-hander is very smart, very funny and very heartwarming.

Much of the two-act production’s success is due to Bradley Moss’ clever direction and flawless pacing, which goes a long way in showcasing the comedy’s appeal.

Hulshof as the nervous Brett and Pereira as the more subdued Drew are superb as a Toronto-based gay couple who receive an inheritance, unaware it will transform their lives.

Playing in the area of 22 characters during split-second scene changes, the two actors display a versatile toolkit that grows into a tour-de-force performance.

The premise is fairly basic. Brett’s Aunt Maggie dies in a freak car accident and wills her small-town, century-old home to her beloved nephew.

In Toronto, Drew and Brett work long hours simply to afford living in a cramped condo. Brett is an interior designer, while Drew works in hospitality. Both men hate their jobs, Toronto’s traffic and the exorbitant house prices that place a single-family home out of reach.

In the couple’s first visit to Aunt Maggie’s house, they fall in love with its charm. How hard can it be to combine their skills, sell the condo and convert the house into a bed and breakfast?

They plan trendy renovations, much to the disapproval of their grumpy contractor. Just as quickly, they make friends with a string of eccentric personalities starting with Alison, a pregnant café owner.

Alison, who happens to make the town’s best lattes, is a lesbian who lives with Chris, her Irish biker partner, and two pooches named after Canadian luminaries – Anne Murray and k.d. lang.

We are introduced to Brett’s secretive parents and Harold Henderson, a kindly neighbour in his eighties. Two of the most endearing characters going through teenage angst are Dustin, the local realtor’s son whose passion is baking, and Brett’s nephew, Cody, a blank-eyed individual whose vocabulary seems limited to “I don’t know.”

Aunt Maggie used to organize the Santa Claus Parade. Since she’s no longer there, Brett and Drew are invited to take her place. One of the funniest scenes involves a cast of volunteers organizing the event while gossiping and stuffing their faces with Dustin’s pastry.

However, one evening Brett and Drew discover their Christmas decorations destroyed and homophobic slurs painted on the house. Neighbours rally offering support, but despite the kindness the duo questions whether they fit in a small town.

Hulshof and Pereira deliver masterful performances in physically rigorous roles that demand intense mental and emotional focus. Just by twisting their body, flicking a wrist, hunching their shoulders or widening their eyes, they slip into a different persona.

Bed and Breakfast is thought-provoking and filled with humour, affection and tolerance. It’s not strictly a Christmas comedy, but there’s no better time of year to see a show that reminds you “love is stronger than hate.”

Bed and Breakfast runs at The Roxy on Gateway until Dec. 8.


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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