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BWW Review: EVERY LITTLE NOOKIE at Stratford Festival has Humour and Heart

Review: EVERY LITTLE NOOKIE at Stratford Festival has Humour and Heart

EVERY LITTLE NOOKIE continues in Repertory at the Studio Theatre until October 1.

If you are a theatre-goer looking to venture outside your comfort zone, or if you often don't feel seen or represented by the societal norms typically presented in modern theatre pieces - then Sunny Drake's new play EVERY LITTLE NOOKIE might be exactly what you are looking for. That's not to say that folks who don't identify with either statement won't also enjoy this play though. To read the production synopsis, you might expect an awkward comedy with hijinks galore, but what you will actually get (beyond it indeed being very funny), is a proudly queer play about human connection, found family, sexual awakenings, and very real and relatable struggles like co-parenting, illness and aging, and affordable housing. You will also witness delightful performances by this small yet mighty cast.

The premise of this play is immediately fun: When empty-nest boomer couple Margaret and Kenneth (Marion Adler and John Koensgen) return home early from vacation, they walk in on the swingers' party that their daughter Annabel (Rose Tuong) has reluctantly agreed to host in their home as a way to help raise rent money for Annabel and her partner Grace (played on opening night by Antonette Rudder) along with their roommates and chosen family, Smash (Stephen Jackman-Torkoff), and Crystal (Verónica Hortigüela).

The comical moment of Margaret and Kenneth walking in on the party, sparks some curiousity in Margaret, and when she confides in Smash about it, they invite her to a future party to explore further - which she does, with a man named Phoenix (Robert King). Crystal, a sex worker, provides a sympathetic ear and some new perspective to Kenneth as he too, at the urging of Margaret, reluctantly and slowly begins to look at possibilities beyond his more conventional lifestyle. As this is happening, Annabel is navigating the polyamorous relationship that she has with Grace and begins dating Matt (Richard Lam), a straight single dad. All the while, Annabel and company are trying to find new living arrangements in the climate of the challenging housing market in Toronto.

Directed by ted witzel, EVERY LITTLE NOOKIE explores a plethora of themes - some universally relatable, and others perhaps more specific. The set design by Michelle Tracey is clever, fun, and a great use of the small space at the Studio Theatre. The set is essentially a platform attached to a giant slide that leads into a bed. Not only does the slide allow for a fun visual effect, but performers can quickly get downstage with ease. The precise lighting design by Jareth Li allows the audience to easily track the action of this at times, complicated web of a stories, from one scene to the next by guiding us - often in quick succession, from upstage to downstage and back.

Everyone in this cast shines. To name a few: Tuong endears the audience to Annabel immediately, Jackman-Torkoff's Smash is a beautiful mix of energy, warmth, loyalty, and vulnerability, and if you don't walk away from the studio theatre telling everyone you know that Marion Adler is a national treasure, then I won't believe you actually saw this show.

Two side plots that run throughout the play are a health issue that Margaret is quietly coping with, and Smash increasingly desperately trying to find a place to live and beginning to question if they are wound as deeply into the fabric of this found family as they once believed they were. The specific struggle of Smash, a nonbinary person who is proudly queer, and aware that their appearance might make it challenging to be approved by a landlord, is very moving and very real. The way that these two side plots eventually intersect with one another is good storytelling, and the bond between Margaret and Smash is perhaps my favourite part of this play.

Although I suspect this play may not be for everyone (and really, what play is for everyone), there is a very strong sense that everyone who walks into that theatre is welcome and celebrated. That alone creates an electricity in the room, and from there, the story and the performances will generate their own buzz. More than anything, this play has heart, and it is a welcome addition to this season at the Festival.

PHOTO CREDIT: David Hou



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From This Author - Lauren Gienow

Based out of Stratford, Ontario, Lauren is an Occupational Therapist working in mental health by day and a BWW Contributor by night (or by matinee). Lauren enjoys daring new productions, classic plays,... (read more about this author)


BWW Review: EVERY LITTLE NOOKIE at Stratford Festival has Humour and Heart
August 4, 2022

If you are a theatre-goer looking to venture outside your comfort zone, or if you often don’t feel seen or represented by the societal norms typically presented in modern theatre pieces – then Sunny Drake’s new play EVERY LITTLE NOOKIE might be exactly what you are looking for. That’s not to say that folks who don’t identify with either statement won’t also enjoy this play though. To read the production synopsis, you might expect an awkward comedy with hijinks galore, but what you will actually get (beyond it indeed being very funny), is a proudly queer play about human connection, found family, sexual awakenings, and very real and relatable struggles like co-parenting, illness and aging, and affordable housing. You will also witness delightful performances by this small yet mighty cast.

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