By David Volpov
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.
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.
Empty Nesters Re enjoying Their Family
Director’s TALK: Hilda’s Yard
Kayt Roth is a director, actor and writer from North Vancouver who literally grew up on Hilda’s Yard – her family lived on the same farm as her paternal grandparents Hilda and David back in Alberta.
She is a history geek, amateur cat lady and armchair politician who wants to be Betty White when she grows up.
Join Kayt and the cast of HILDA’S YARD immediately after the performance on Friday, September 22nd, 2017 for an informal chat.
• Kayt will do a brief explanation of what interested her about the play
• Bring the cast in to talk about the challenges of mounting a piece set in the 1950s,
• And then open it up to questions from the audience.
Performances are Thursday to Saturday at 8:00 pm, with Sunday Matinees at 2:00 pm. Run time is 2 hours 15 min.
September 16th to October 7th, Thursday through Saturday nights with Matinees on September 24th and October 1st.
1370 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver, BC. Next to the on-ramp to the Arthur Laing Bridge by Marine Drive and Granville .
Tickets are $25 for adults or $22 for seniors and students, with a special every Thursday 2 for $38. Preview performance $15.
BOX OFFICE WINDOWS HOURS:
Wed – Sat 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm & 1 Hour before each show.
Box Office Phone: 604 266 7191
LICENSED LOUNGE HOURS:
Show Performance Evenings – 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Show Performance Matinees – 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
There is plenty of easy parking – in the parking lot, on the street, even ‘All Evening Parking’ for $4 at the Liquor Store Lot just up the street from Metro.
We’re close to the Marpole bus loop and on the #10 route. Check out www.translink.ca for transit directions.
CONTACT: Metro for more information, publicity photos, arrangements for interviews and press tickets.
Metro Theatre kicks off our 55th Season with the Canadian play – HILDA’s YARD – in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday.
Hilda’s Yard is written by one of Canada’s most prolific playwrights, Norm Foster, directed by returning director Kayt Roth; on stage September 16 – October 7.
It’s 1956, one ordinary family, one extraordinary day: 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. Then 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.
Beware of the “flying Flucks”. As soon as the two siblings are together or interacting with their parents, they quickly fall into old ways of communicating – pouting, whining and foot stomping that ends up very funny. Things really stir up when Gary’s bookie, Beverly and his star-crossed lover, Bobbi show up. With a name like Fluck, there’s potential for things going askew and of course, they do, as the play explores family dynamics with love and laughter.
Lucille Ball said “You see much more of your children after they leave home.” Director Kayt Roth tells us that in Hilda and Sam Fluck’s case, it’s the truth. Norm Foster has touched on the modern day issue of children returning to the nest after moving out, and how it impacts their parents’ plans for how to spend their golden years
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Hilda Fluck……….Katherine Morris
Sam Fluck……….Richard Guenther
Gary Fluck……….Mark MacDonald
Janey Fluck……….Tricia Gilliss
Bobbi Jakes……….Julia Christina Ray
Beverly Woytowich……….Dayleigh Nelson