by Leith Clark
Directed by Maryth Gilroy
Husky Guy Productions
and Novus Theatre
Waterfront Theatre
August 17-27


What will happen to Marjoram when she comes out of her coma? Who is that mysterious prowler stalking the Parsley mansion? Did hunky Cayenne, who does condom ads, really get Thyme pregnant? Will Anise drop out of medical school to unplug toilets with her lover Pimento, the hot Hispanic plumber? And has Sage gone blind…or blond?

This is just a taste of what’s going on when we meet the denizens of Savoury City again in Part 3 of The Spice of Life, the theatrical soap previously presented by Husky Guy Productions and Novus Theatre at the 2004 Vancouver Fringe Festival, and due to conclude at next month’s Fringe with Part 4, The Final Conflicts.

Leith Clark’s clever script, with characters all named for spices or herbs, might be called All My Chilies. The style is less Desperate Housewives than Days of Our Lives, complete with voiceover narrator (“Previously on The Spice of Life…”) and piano chords that cue the actors to turn to the audience for a long, dramatic stare at the end of each scene. The theme music is “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.”

Director Maryth Gilroy does a good job of weaving the tangled web of multiple plots, adeptly moving the cast of 16 on, off and around the set with its six or seven locations. She has also created a more consistent tone than in last year’s Part 2, which suffered from excessively hammy acting. The performance style here can hardly be called restrained but it’s not quite so arch. Letting the absurd scenarios, dialogue and music do some of the work, the actors don’t have to push so hard. They still sometimes seem to be having more fun than the audience.

Standouts in the cast include Sharon McIntyre’s demented nurse Ginger, all teased hair and twitches, and Marcel Perro’s passionate plumber Pimento. With his thick accent and heavy gold chains, he’s a low-rent, hot tamale version of Pacino in Scarface.

As Clove, the deaf, alcohol-sodden matriarch of the Parsley clan, Luisa Jojic is funny and subtle, casually fixing her hair before she passes out. Lee Vincent plays both her sons, evil Cumin and naive Curry, in the show’s cleverest characterization. Always in profile, Vincent has half his shirt dark, the other half light, one side of his face sporting long sideburns and moustache, the other side clean-shaven. A fight between the two brothers is a highlight. Riel Hahn also has some delicious moments as airhead Rosemary, the housemaid turned lawyer.

This is all completely frivolous, and at exactly an hour it even replicates the time-frame of the TV form it parodies. Just the thing if you want something light and not too spicy for a late-summer evening snack.

Jerry Wasserman


last updated: Thursday, August 25, 2005 2:05 AM
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