The Fiancée is a wickedly funny and silly farce
By Ezekiel McAdams
December 4 2022
Persephone Theatre’s production of The Fiancée is the early Christmas gift we needed.
Directed by Persephone's artistic director Heather Cant and written by Holly Lewis. The play debuted at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. The play was shortlisted for Sharon Pollock Playwrighting Award and won the Alberta Playwright Competition Novitiate Award last year.
The play focuses on two sisters, Lucy (Ali Watson) and Rose (Jameela McNeil) just after the end of World War II. Lucy is indecisive and has trouble saying no to things. She accepted three marriage proposals from men before they shipped off and now all of them have returned at the same time. The three men are Dick (Cameron Grant), Manny (Mackenzie Dawson) and Captain Clark (Kenn McLeod). To make matters worse, the two sisters also have to deal with their new landlord, Ms Crotch (Kristel Harder) and a nervous vacuum salesman (Kenn McLeod).
This play is a nonstop roller coaster of laughs. It has everything from pratfalls, physical comedy, double entendre, sexual innuendos and sharp dialogue.
The two leads, Ali Watson and Jameela McNeil have undeniable chemistry that lights up the stage. Watson portrays Lucy with such earnest likability and charm and has such an infectious energy. Watson masterfully juggles physical comedy, accents, props and even food with ease.
McNeil has an electric performance as Rose, the more practical sister. McNeil conveys her character’s frustration, impatience and fear as her sister’s troubles continue to build and build with both nervous and radiant energy that her performance is one to behold.
The supporting players of Grant, Dawson, McLeod and Harder are equally impressive.
Harder as the landlord Ms Crotch gives a scene stealing performance as the curmudgeonly, no nonsense foil to the two sisters. Harder’s inflection, posture and presence every time she’s on stage is unforgettable.
Dawson is effortlessly charming as the neurotic, bumbling, punctual, Manny. Dawson radiates such a goofy, heartfelt and nervous performance.
Cameron as Dick commands the stage as the cocky, egotistical, ladies man. He is a perfect straight man to both Watson and McNeill. Cameron was so adept at playing his character Dick trying to both comprehend and do mental gymnastics to all the shenanigans surrounding him.
Kenn Mcloud who plays the dual roles of Chester the vacuum salesman and Captain Clark is a perfect chameleon. McLoud is able to interchange so seamlessly as worrywart Chester and stoic, man of action, Clark it would be easy to forget that they are played by the same actor.
Cant was able to direct this with such fun and whimsy. Every actor shined and the production’s runtime breezed by quickly and left a smile on your face throughout. Cant’s ability to amalgamate different forms of comedy as well as the actors’ different sensibilities is no easy task and she made it look easy.
The set design by Sarah Uwadiae perfectly encapsulated the time period that it felt preserved in time until needed for this production.
The costumes by Jeff Chief and Miranda Hughes-McKnight were another highlight that both embodied the time period but also were expressive in their design that added to the play’s ambience.
The Fiancée is a wonderful treat stuffed with laughs like a double stuffed Oreo cookie and dripping with heart. There is no better escape this month then watching prat falls, physical comedy played to perfection by an electric ensemble.