Junior Jackson Margolis and his brother, freshman Dylan, regularly review plays presented by the B Street Theatre, which is now part of The Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts and is located at 2700 Capitol Avenue.
On June 22 they saw Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s revamped version of his old play, “The Foursome,” an all-male cast production that was produced at B Street in 2005. The new show, renamed “The Ladies Foursome,” stars four females instead and premiered at B Street in 2014.
Look, I’m a 16-year-old boy. A play about a group of four middle-aged women gossiping while playing golf sounds about as interesting to me as eating sand.
But despite my preconceptions, I was enthralled by the characters, relationships and plot of “The Ladies Foursome” almost the entire time.
I found myself wondering if Margot (Amy Kelly), a seemingly strong and successful divorcee with a drinking problem, was ever going to call her daughter; if Tate (Tara Simpson) – a naive, over-dramatic, stay-at-home, untalented golfer – was going to get over her addiction problem; and if Connie (Rebecca Dines), a playful news anchor who doesn’t have the word “losing” in her vocabulary, would come to terms with the death of her husband.
These are not plot lines that would normally interest me, or anyone who was born in this century; however, director Dave Pierni and the four actresses were able to pull me in by taking the words and delivering them at a quick and passionate pace.
The play follows a group of three female golfers, who, until just the day before, met merely for a recreational round of the sport every week. However, they are now without their fourth member, Catherine, who recently passed away from getting struck by lightning.
So in order to carry on her memory – and maintain a group of four – the trio invites one of Catherine’s friends, Dory (Tate Hanyok), a conservative mom of too-many-to-count whose dreams were realigned after her marriage, to join them.
In addition to raunchy comedic lines, the play also has serious aspects to it surrounding the lives of the women, especially the conflicting personalities of Connie and Dori.
But what really kept my attention was my desire to learn more about who Catherine really was, compared to who her friends thought she was.
And once Dory suggests that the quartet should play for money, the 18 holes go from a relaxing game to a competition where each of the women are ready to shove their clubs down each other’s throats.
Jackson: “So, Dylan, what’d you think of the show?”
Dylan: “I thought it was OK. I thought there were a lot of inappropriate jokes involving sex.
J: And alcohol.
D: Yeah, I didn’t really understand a lot of them due to my age –
J: Oh, young Dylan.
D: – and I definitely haven’t experienced any of it, so I feel as though this show was definitely meant for an older audience.
J: So you wouldn’t recommend this to incoming high schoolers?
D: I guess not. There were a couple funny lines, but it’s around a two-and-a-half-hour show, and since a lot of the time I didn’t understand what was going on, it would seem dreary for kids my age.
J: There were a couple of slow patches in act two (no pun intended), but it kept my interest basically the entire time, and by the end, I thought that the characters were developed enough that I really sympathized with them. I even felt a little emotional at the end.
D: Hmm, I didn’t.
D: Well, I didn’t like it as much since I prefer a story or play that has more structure, and this sort of had none. They were just going right and left on different topics. Some had relevance to the almost non-existent plot, and some totally didn’t.
J: Yeah, see, I’m not a fan of that linear plot line in shows. I enjoy movies like “Interstellar,” whose plot is sort of all over the place.
D: That’s not a good example.
J: OK, well –
D: Do not put that in your article.
J: I’m going to.
J: Enough; we’re getting side tracked here. Who was your favorite character?
D: I didn’t really like any of the characters.
J: My favorite was –
D: I really felt no sympathy for any of the characters, because every time there was a line or joke that pulled you and the rest of the 50-plus audience into the characters, it just went over my head.
J: I thought the show was funny. If I have to pick my favorite character, it would be Connie. Dines is clearly a phenomenal actress, and she gave a couple of monologues throughout the show that, while funny, spoke to the soul of the audience.
D: Wait, what was I going to say? I had a really good comment. Oh! I didn’t like any of the characters because I thought that all of their personalities were all over the place. One moment someone would reveal a part of their past that made you sympathize with them, and the next they said they were addicted to gambling. I couldn’t really get attached to any of them.
J: I disagree. I mean, I really was rooting for the characters – well, except one.
J: Dory. I just couldn’t stand her personality, but at one point I realized that the fact that I disliked her so much proved how great of an actress Tankyok is.
D: Really? I was rooting for her.
J: Oh, I was rooting for the other team –
D: I really didn’t care – I just wanted it to end.
J: OK, did you mind that they were just pantomiming hitting the golf balls?
D: It was fine. What would’ve been cool is if they hit foam balls out to the audience instead. The space is great for that.
J: I like that idea. Anyway, what else do you think they could’ve added?
D: There was a lot of mystery surrounding Catherine’s past that Dory seemed to know, yet everyone else didn’t. While some of it was answered, I was sort of hoping for more information about Catherine.
J: I wouldn’t change the lines at all. One of my favorite things about the show were the random topics mentioned in act one that, out of nowhere, were brought back up in act two.
D: I thought some of that interweaving of the show was clever. For example, there’s one point in the middle of act one where Connie says there are no famous Bobbys. And then, near the end of act two, Tate shouts out –
J: Bobby Kennedy!
D: Yes! If you weren’t paying attention there are many parts of the show, like this one, that would make absolutely no sense.
J: And for a more mature audience, there are a lot adult innuendos that sometimes went over our heads.
D: They went over my head most of the time.
J: But I think an older audience is going to pick up on everything and really enjoy the show.
D: Like there was one scene that was pretty risque. There were a lot of sexual hand movements.
J: That’s the main reason I wouldn’t bring an 8-year-old.
D: Oh, yeah, because that’s a constant dilemma for you. It’s Friday night and you’ve got an 8-year old and you don’t know what to do.
J: Very funny – what did you think about the set?
D: The set was also pretty cool, but they could’ve expanded upon it a bit more. Since every scene is set at a new hole, and they didn’t change the set that much from hole to hole, it sometimes took me a minute to realize that it was a new hole.
J: But you have to admit, they did do a good job of making the stage look like a golf course.
D: Yeah, they did. So then, what was your favorite part?
J: I liked the evolution of the friendship between Connie and Dory. What started as a simple distaste of Dory ignoring Connie and Connie calling Dory “Doris” became a genuine hatred, which was evoked by both of their competitive natures, which then transformed into a mutual friendship of sorts.
D: My favorite part was when, between each scene, the characters would walk behind the screen as their dark silhouettes were displayed onto the backdrop.
J: That was funny. They would all be marching across silently; however, through acting, we were able to see exactly what each character was saying and thinking the entire time.
D: It was clever.
J: Exactly. Whether you liked the show or not, you can’t deny that the writer, director and actors did a solid job developing these characters. You knew the emotions of each character at all times.
D: I don’t know about that –
J: Well, anyway, those four characters really carried the show. So, all that being said, what would you give it out of four stars?
D: Hmm. Either a two-and-a-half or a three.
J: Pick one.
D: I can’t decide.
J: Well then, after I say my piece you should come to a decision.
J: I’m giving it a three-and-a-half out of four, because even though it was funny and made me emotional, I’m not leaving the show saying that that is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in my life.
D: I’m giving it a two-and-a-half.
J: You’ve said enough. I’m censoring you.
D: That’s not fair! I think that my opinion is just as valuable –
J: That’s enough out of you.
The show runs from Jun. 19 – July 22, Tuesdays through Sundays. Tickets are $27-$39.
—By Jackson Margolis