The Lonely Diner - Scarface in Lambton County?
- Written by Mary Alderson
The Lonely Diner – Al Capone in Euphemia Township
By Beverley Cooper
Directed by Anne Hodges
Performed by Michael Spencer Davis, Catherine Fitch, Dubal Lang, Haley McGee, Rylan Wilkie
Blyth Festival, Blyth
July 18 to August 25, 2012
Gangsters? Murderers? Rum Runners? Nighttime airplane flights with suspicious cargo? All this went on in Euphemia Township, in Lambton County?
Well, we’re not sure that there was really a diner in Euphemia Township visited by Al ‘Scarface’ Capone himself – but we do know that during the U.S. prohibition, Canadian whiskey made its way to Chicago to be distributed by Capone’s gang. Playwright Beverley Cooper has given us a plausible story of how things would have been if all reports of rum-running in Lambton County are true. The show, on stage now through August at the Blyth Festival theatre, is a fascinating piece of 1920s history. It’s set during the time when prohibition existed throughout the U.S., but had been lifted in Ontario.
Lucy and her husband Ron are trying to make ends meet in tough times by renting out their farmland and running a diner out of their house. The story is somewhat reminiscent of The Bridges of Madison County. Like that woman, Lucy is bored and unhappy with country life and longs for the urban glamour of movies, or even movie magazines. But her husband and teenaged daughter want no part of her dreams, settling for their dull, rural life.
It’s a study of Lucy and what she’ll jeopardize in her attempts to make some money to save for a trip to the city. It’s also an interesting look at family relationships. There are laughs in the urban – rural contrasts. And Lucy’s reaction to having a notorious gangster in her midst is fascinating. Not much more about the plot can be told without spoiling the twists and turns.
Michael Spencer Davis is excellent as Capone. He switches from charming to nasty at the drop of his fedora, just as reports of Scarface indicate. He has the gangster voice down pat and commands the stage. Playing his sidekick, Rylan Wilkie is Mascarpone. He, too, is very good with the right accent, and has the additional challenge of playing the role while making pasta and sauce.
Catherine Fitch plays Lucy, the beleaguered wife, so unhappy in her marriage and home. She is good as this devious character, but at times I found her a little unbelievable. On the other hand, the character herself is implausible with her daydreaming and attempts to escape her reality.
Haley McGee gives a good interpretation of a sullen teenager, embarrassed by her mother, showing her attitude. Duval Lang presents Ron, the husband who can’t understand his wife and has lost patience, very well.
The playwright has given the audience a few thrilling moments, some clever comedy and a twist in the tale. It’s well worth the drive to Blyth to see this clever story, set on Lambton’s back roads, and get a taste of Canada’s mob connections.
The Lonely Diner continues at the Blyth Festival in repertoire until August 25. Call / or go to www.blythfestival.com for tickets.
A member of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association, Mary Alderson reviews shows at area theatres and posts blogs at www.entertainthisthought.com