HILDA’S YARD by Norm Foster
Directed by Kayt Roth
On stage September 16 – October 7, 2017
Norm Foster has been called “Canada’s preeminent comic playwright,” and he is also one of Canada’s most prolific and most produced. Among his best-known works are the Canadian classic The Melville Boys, Wrong for Each Other, The Affections of May, Maggie’s Getting Married, and Office Hours. Norm now lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
“There comes a time when you just want to be free of the responsibility,” Hilda Fluck
Hilda and hubby Sam are recent empty-nesters, keen to enjoy life after raising two children. Their hopes are symbolized by a brand-new television set Sam purchases, visions of cozy evenings on the couch dancing in his head, blissfully unaware of the chaos that is about to ensue. The channel is changed, however when their son Gary loses his job, daughter Janey leaves her husband and both adult children boomerang back to their nonplussed parents for an extended and unexpected stay.
While the set evokes the 1950s with its supposed simplicity and wholesomeness, the plot serves as a reminder that complex family dynamics are relevant in any decade.
The family matriarch, Hilda Fluck, rules with a combination of sugar and iron. Hilda, a real looker in her day and a fabulous dancer, had chosen to marry Sam Fluck, a factory worker who has been doing the same mundane job for nearly 30 years. Hilda is a sharp-tongued yet compassionate woman, and even though her role is largely confined to keeping the household humming along, she possesses a fine native intelligence and is nobody’s dupe–much to the chagrin of her very spoiled adult children.
Hilda long ago developed this odd habit of telling her woes to an imaginary neighbour, the invisible Mrs. Linstrom across the fence. But on this one day, as she is hanging her laundry, Hilda reflects on her life, how she and Sam are finally empty nesters and what this new stage in life will mean.
Sam is still deeply in love with his wife and looking forward to this next phase, where they can cuddle on the couch and watch the new television he is about to purchase. Given this was the 1950s, buying a television was a huge deal for any family.
Gary is on the run from a couple of thugs who are after him for stiffing their boss on a horse racing bet. Gary, well into his 30s and recently fired from a pizza delivery job, really never wanted to leave home. He uses his war experiences 11 years previous as an excuse not to move on with life.
Janey left her husband and now dreams of a life of adventure as a travel agent. She reveals that her new husband wants her to stay home and do house cleaning. The idea of scrubbing toilets is so repulsive, she had to leave. But this seemingly shallow and spoiled girl has another reason for leaving, one she reveals only to her father. Her husband hit her.
Two additional characters round out the ensemble; Gary is running from his bookie, Beverly Woytowich, while hoping to secure the girl of his dreams, Bobbi Jakes.
Beverly is the suave bookie Gary owes money to and he’s here to collect. Hilda, sensing a crisis, deals with the thug by bringing him into her family fold. He’s confused but accepts. Beverly conveys sophistication and concern well beyond the confines of his dubious lifestyle.
The trombone-playing bohemian, Bobbi is all hip and modern, a firecracker of a lady that sets hearts on fire; yet she views the Fluck family home as something she aspires to have.
As a couple, Hilda and Sam have a warm relationship with wonderful moments of teasing and affection. Gary and Janey play sibling rivalry to the maximum, defining “failure to launch” long before it was a readily employed term.
The generation gap between the parents and the children is large and what may seem like far out ideas to the parents are reasonable to the new generation. The contrast between generations and the difficulties in seeing a situation in someone else’s shoes, especially when your values are set in stone is a major theme in the play.
Hilda’s Yard is chock-full of Foster’s well-known humour, even as it delves into the depths of the serious issues of Gary’s post-traumatic stress disorder and Janey’s spousal abuse. The contradictions inherent in the quirky characters lead to many fine comedic moments.
In the end, despite the challenges of the day, ties of love, family, and friendship prevail and we come to understand that family dynamics really have not changed much over the decades.
Tickets are $25 Adult or $22 Senior/Student with a special 2 for $38 every Thursday.
Tickets can be reserved by calling the Box Office 604 266 7191 or purchased on line TICKETS