At Pacific Theatre until Oct. 27
Tickets: 604-731-5518, pacifictheatre.org
When She Who Created Us All was doling out talent, She seems to have showered some people with many more gifts than others. The seven performers in James Valcq and Fred Alley’s Spitfire Grill, for example, play 10 instruments including clarinet, piano, violin, guitar and accordion. They all sing well—some, like prodigiously talented Julie McIsaac—sing superbly and they’re all skilled actors. Had the play required them to fly, I’ll bet they could have done that, too.
As well as the performers making music, there are three more musicians—including a cellist and a mandolin player elevated in a small, scrimmed “balcony.” Spitfire Grill feels like a big show in an intimate setting. No head mikes here and what a difference it makes.
There are a couple of mysteries at the heart of Spitfire Grill: Percy (McIsaac) has just been sprung from prison and arrived in a small town called Gilead. Why she was in prison we don’t discover until late in the play. Percy is hired on by the widow Hannah Ferguson (Barbara Pollard) at the Spitfire Grill, the only eatery in the down-at-the-heels town. Second mystery: Hannah’s son Eli disappeared while fighting in Vietnam. Is he alive or dead?
There’s romance, humour, spousal abuse, despair and joyful resolution as the characters including Sheriff Joe Sutter (Steven Greenfield), Caleb and Shelby Thorpe (Damon Calderwood and Caitriona Murphy) plus Gilead’s gossip Effy (Sarah May Redmond) and the elusive visitor (Gordon Roberts) work things out.
Very ably directed by Kerry van der Griend, Spitfire Grill ends on an uplifting note that’s almost too much for this old grouch. However, there’s so much talent in this Midnight Theatre Collective production, Pacific Theatre could spontaneously combust. See Spitfire Grill before it does.