BWW Review: BED & BREAKFAST at the Great Canadian Theatre Company
I was fortunate enough to be invited to a performance of the Great Canadian Theatre Company's (GCTC) production of Bed and Breakfast. I was unsure what to expect, as I knew it was a two-man play and I am often wary of these types of shows because so much rides on the actors' ability, with very little margin for error. Not only was I not disappointed, but I was, in fact, astounded at how successfully Mark Crawford and Paul Dunn pulled it off. But more of that later. First let me give you a little background of the story.
Published in 2015, Crawford's Bed and Breakfast explores what it is like for a same sex couple trying to make a life for themselves in a small town. It all begins with Brett (Crawford), an interior designer with his own TV show segment, and Drew (Dunn), a hotel concierge, looking to find a bigger place in Toronto. Featuring a plot many Torontonians and Vancouverites can relate to, Brett and Drew are continually disappointed as their real estate offers are outbid in the tight housing market. After another unsuccessful offer, Brett receives news that his Aunt Maggie has passed away unexpectedly and he has received an inheritance in the form of a beautiful old house that needs some work. Could this be the solution to Brett and Drew's housing troubles? Brett and Drew head out to the small Ontario town to see if they can fix up the house to sell it and use the proceeds to get their dream place in Toronto.
Along the way, they meet a lively cast of characters, some kind and open hearted, and others more challenging. Brett and Drew begin to believe that they can make a peaceful life for themselves away from the chaos of the city by using their joint expertise to turn the house into a bed and breakfast. Then, something happens to jolt them and forces them to take a step back to question whether they can ever really be accepted and have a sense of belonging in such a small town.
As if that wasn't enough, Brett and Drew must also come to terms with their relationships with their parents, discover who they really are, and forge relationships with the townspeople.
Crawford and Dunn were tasked with playing multiple roles in this play. The story was quite complex and veered in several directions. You would not be faulted for thinking it would be (and, indeed, should be) difficult to perform all these roles without confusing the audience. Crawford and Dunn were simply outstanding. Through their use of various tones of voice and body language, I always knew exactly which of the more than fifteen characters was speaking at any given time.
Dana Osborne's set design was ultra-simplistic, which was exactly what was required so that the audience remained focused on the story and its characters, rather than getting distracted by the scenery or unnecessary props. The one exception was the house's exterior façade and its lighting - this was brilliantly done and effectively divided the stage into an interior and interior space.
The story has a number of plot twists to keep the audience engrossed in the storyline and cheering for Brett and Drew, who are just so darned likeable. I managed to figure out the outcome of all of the major plot points, but judging by some audible gasps I heard from the rows in front of me, some people were surprised by the revelations.
Ultimately, Bed and Breakfast is a joy to watch; the acting is of superior quality and the subject matter is relatable to so many people on so many levels. It's funny, it's poignant, and it has a satisfying ending. On top of that, it was a treat to get to see Crawford acting in the play he wrote. I heartily recommend seeing Bed and Breakfast during this run at the GCTC, on now through December 22, 2018. For more information or to purchase tickets, check out https://www.gctc.ca/shows/bed-and-breakfast.