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July 22, 2023:

Doris and Ivy in the Home reviewed by Rob Stevens

Ann Hearn and Diana Angelina (all photos by Warren Davis)

Theatre 40, on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, has opened their 57th season with Norm Foster’s Doris and Ivy in The Home. The title gives away the fact that there is some female bonding about to happen in a senior citizen environment. Doris (Diana Angelina) is a widowed former prison guard who has spent 28 years around hardened criminals and never really cultivated female friends since university. On her first day at Paradise Village in the small town of Canmore, Alberta, she meets Ivy (Ann Hearn), who has sought shelter on the patio from an “incident” in the lunchroom. An elderly female Ivy knew had a stroke and was taken away in an ambulance.

Diana Angelina and Ann Hearn

Ivy is taken aback by Doris’s brashness and invasive questions. She is humiliated once again when Doris realizes Ivy is a former world champion Austrian skier whose one unfortunate day on the slopes, caused by a windblown Three Musketeers candy wrapper, has caused her name (Hoffbauer) to be used as a catchphrase for monumental screwups. Ivy admits she moved to Canada shortly after her humiliation to escape her countrymen’s ridicule. The thrice-divorced Ivy admits she has also Hoffbauered her marriages. The one thing she is proud of is her two daughters who live in town and run the gift shop Ivy started years ago. The two women bond even more when they witness another senior couple–she a wig-wearing former stage actress with alopecia and limber limbs and he using an inhaler to get a second wind for their sexual cavorting near the compost heap in the garden.

David Hunt Stafford and Ann Hearn

The women are soon joined on the patio by Arthur (David Hunt Stafford), a widowed former teacher who makes up poetry on the cuff and is totally smitten with Ivy. He has been pursuing Ivy for five months because his colon cancer has given him only two years to live and he doesn’t want to die alone. Ivy is hesitant to make a commitment, but Doris decides to speed up the matchmaking.

Ann Hearn and David Hunt Stafford

There are some twists and turns to the plot that leaves its audience in a feel-good mood. Foster is often referred to as the Neil Simon of Canada. There are some laughs here, but they are more character driven than one-liners or all out jokes. The real joy of the production, directed by Warren Davis, is watching three real pros inhabit their characters like a second skin. As Ivy, Hearn has the sleek build of an athlete and the nervous energy of a woman who feels she doesn’t need any more incidents in her life. Stafford’s Arthur has the relaxed charm of a smooth, polished lothario, but one in need of cuddling rather than boinking. Angelina has brass to spare as Doris and energizes the proceedings. The original actress cast as Doris was in a car accident and had to drop out shortly before opening night. Angelina went on with script in hand and still delivered a full-bodied performance. A triumphant and heart-warming trio.


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