'A Scandal for All Seasons' by Burke Campbell

Five Points Theatre, Barrie and produced by Theatre by the Bay

Five Points Theatre, Barrie and produced by Theatre by the Bay

Joe Szekeres

Photo credit: Claire Allen

Warning: This one is NOT meant for the kiddos so don’t bring them. There are moments in the play when the connotations are dirty and filthy.

And I mean that. Do not bring the kids to this one.

Confession: I did laugh out loud a few times.

I wondered if playwright Burke Campbell was possibly playing on the meaning of his ‘Scandal’ in juxtaposition to one of my favourites – Robert Bolt’s ‘A Man for All Seasons’ and central character Sir Thomas More.

Boy, I couldn’t be farther from the truth on this comparison. If I tried to make any comparison, it would be a major stretch.

‘A Scandal for All Seasons’ is set in Barrie and there are a lot of inside city jokes, so residents, be prepared. A couple of them made me smile but if you are aware of any of the connections and their implications, I’m sure you’ll be rolling in the aisles with laughter.

We are in the posh home of wealthy socialite Augusta (Augie) Peacock (Lynn Weintraub). Another socialite Doris Lester (Elana Post) arrives to pass the time with idle chitter-chatter about whatever is in their line of vision for the day. Although they appear to be superficial friends, Augusta and Doris form a very awkward alliance to promote the young, handsome, and athletic mayoral municipal candidate Biff Worthington (Jonathon Lerose) to make the city of Barrie a city metropolis compared to a safe, cozy town. The ladies come up with an idea to conduct a raffle where the winner will dine with Biff privately for a home-cooked meal which leads to all sorts of possible comic interplay.

The humour of this piece stems from Doris’s and Augie’s mutual lust for Biff which becomes a comic rivalry where the sexual innuendos and connotations abound aplenty.

I must acknowledge Brenda Thompson and Sandra Roberts right away as the props, set and costumes are strikingly rich. When I sat down, I was in awe of all the intricate props and the bougie look of the elegant room. Thompson made some excellent choices in set furnishings while Roberts’ costume designs were bang on perfect to delineate the intricacies of the characters. Weintraub’s Cleopatra, Lerose’s Marc Antony, and Post’s servant girl costumes in the second act are beautifully layered.

I’ve read that Director Iain Moggach has been described as ‘whip-smart’ and I will concur with this compliment once again. In his programme note, Iain felt that presenting ‘Scandal’ in 2022 was ripe since Barrie is in a municipal election year.

Why is this a smart move on Moggach’s part?

Well, from my experience, voter turnout is always extremely low in municipal elections. Most times, it appears residents really don’t care about them and may resort to an ‘Eeny, meany, miny mo’ type of voting. So, Campbell and Moggach spice up a possible boring upcoming event to make us laugh by concocting some farcical implausible elements of a fictitious election to shake up the golden boy image. And these ladies sure do shake up Biff’s image.

‘Scandal’ does take some time to get the action going in the first act. There is a great deal of exposition between the two ladies and that’s to be expected as the female interplay between Doris and Augie becomes bitchy, scalding and often sarcastic. Like tennis players who are in control on the court, Post and Weintraub deftly lob the sometimes-scalding insults and jabs back and forth with precision and control.

Jonathon Lerose’s nice guy, naïve Biff grandly shows us the ‘tiger’ burning inside his manly being in the second act upon drinking water that has been laced with an aphrodisiac, and that’s all I’m going to say. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The strait-laced hopeful municipal politician proudly wearing his Mayoral chain of office everywhere he goes (even on his bike ride when we first meet him) combined with the ‘bad boy sexual side’ makes for possible blushing intrigue.

The challenge behind staging any farce is making sure everything appears believable and in the moment without ever venturing over the top and out of the moment. Director Moggach carefully ensures this doesn’t happen especially when the characters chase after each other on the stage. The comic timing and delivery remain soundly intact throughout the play, especially in Joshua Lucas’s Doerksen’s sound cues which had to be executed exactly for a specific effect.

For me, where the script begins to lose some steam occurs near the conclusion when events appear to get wrapped up quickly like a television situation comedy. The frenetic, high-paced energy comes to a crashing halt as the plot events are wound up. Perhaps another look at the script to tidy that up?

Final Comments: This matinee audience surely enjoyed themselves at this modern farce of tres adult humour. And in this time of Covid and wanting and needing to laugh, ‘A Scandal for All Seasons’ does just that for the most part.

Go see it.

Approximate running time: 2 hours and 15 minutes including one intermission.

The play runs to August 21 at the Five Points Theatre, 1 Dunlop Street West, Barrie, Ontario. For tickets, visit www.theatrebythebay.com or call (705) 735-9243.

‘A Scandal for All Seasons’ by Burke Campell
Presented by Theatre by the Bay
Director: Iain Moggach
Stage Manager: Khaleel Gandhi; Assistant Stage Manager: Lesley Coo; Lighting Designer: Za Hughes; Sound Designer: Joshua Lucas Doerksen; Props Master: Brenda Thompson; Costume Designer: Sandra Roberts; Scenic Painter: Rosalind Naccarato; Set Carpenter: Diane Frederick;

Technical Director: Julia (JB) Beaulieu; Production Manager: Santana Hamilton

Performers: Jonathon Lerose, Elana Post, Lynn Weintraub;

Abstract Building
Black on Transparent_edited.png