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'Bed & Breakfast' by Mark Crawford

Now onstage until June 30 at the Port Hope Capitol Theatre, 20 Queen Street.

Now onstage until June 30 at the Port Hope Capitol Theatre, 20 Queen Street.

Joe Szekeres

“Make a reservation for actor/playwright Mark Crawford’s BED & BREAKFAST at Port Hope’s Capitol Theatre. Smartly directed by Rob Kempson with sharp, delineated performances by Kyle Golemba and Amir Haidar.”

Brett (Kyle Golemba) and Drew (Amir Haidar) are weary of their cramped downtown Toronto condo and the disappointment of seven failed home bids. Their lives take an unexpected turn when Brett, upon the passing of his beloved Aunt Maggie, inherits a house in a small town east of Toronto. He and Drew decide to seize this opportunity and start a bed and breakfast in Maggie’s historic home, setting the stage for the unexpected in their lives.

The couple experiences comic woes running a B&B. As members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Brett and Drew also face friction in this small town for who they are. By the end of the play, the two of them discover that life is not always straightforward when trying to escape complicated situations.

I’ve heard of playwright/actor Crawford’s script before. I only knew it was a two-hander and involved the actors playing multiple characters.

What a delight to finally see it live.

‘Bed & Breakfast’ is not an easy play to stage. From a visionary perspective in comic timing, there is much to consider in understanding the vast array of who each character is and their connections to each other, as well as their importance in moving the plot events forward.

Ensuring Crawford’s intuitive script remains timely is quite a challenge. This terrific opening night performance met this challenge head-on with gusto.

First, Capitol’s Artistic Director Kempson's staging of the play in June makes complete sense since this month recognizes the LGBTQIA+ community. ‘Bed & Breakfast,’ however, is more than just recognizing its roots within the community—it is far more.

‘Bed & Breakfast’ emphasizes the importance of belonging and the feeling of having an essential place within any established community.

Joyce Padua’s costume designs purposefully characterize the vast array of characters who enter and exit the condo and the house. Her split-level set design of Brett and Drew’s intimate Toronto condo also nicely outlines the lower level of the B & B. The few steps up and down signify other parts of the house. Michelle Ramsay’s clearly defined lighting design focuses attention where needed, especially in several monologues Brett and Drew deliver to the audience. Round of applause to La-Nai Gabriel’s sound design when the precision and timing of the cues add much to the comedy of the moment.

Rob Kempson's assured and confident direction of the subject content does not become preachy or ‘in your face’ at any time. Instead, he guides Kyle Golemba and Amir Haidar to sculpt authentic people who are vital members of all communities everywhere, regardless of their personal lives. Brett and Drew’s struggles, wins, losses, joys, sorrows and laughs have become mine, too, within the two-hour running time.

There are moments where I rooted for Brett and Drew and other times when I could empathize with their sadness, loss, and frustration, especially in some of the horrific treatment they sometimes endured from others in this small town.

Kyle Golemba and Amir Haidar are the reasons for seeing the show.

They’re the kind of neighbours I’d like to have. They’re personable guys with whom you could have a beer or a cup of coffee and talk about everything or anything. They deliver likeable performances. They’re funny. They can be serious. They’re lively.

They’re also in physically good shape for all the running around they do on the Capitol stage. Kyle and Amir do a lot of running and quick movements as they become the next character in mere seconds or a quick flourish, perhaps donning a specific piece of clothing or assuming a pose.

There is one moment during the second act where all hell breaks loose in the B & B. Kempson has intricately staged that moment with impeccable pacing. I put my pen away, closed my notebook, and watched two solid actors whisk me away to what they know how to do—perform with focus and remain in the moment with intent and purpose. At the close of that scene, the audience erupted into a wild round of applause for Golemba and Haidar, which was appropriately earned.

A feel-good opening night production with tremendous heart and joy of life, this ‘Bed & Breakfast’ travels to Winnipeg in the fall to entertain audiences with humour, pathos and drama.

Before it leaves Port Hope’s Capitol Theatre, make that reservation and visit this local production.

Running time: approximately two hours and ten minutes with one interval/intermission.

‘Bed & Breakfast’ runs until June 30 at the Port Hope Capitol Theatre Mainstage, 20 Queen Street. For tickets, visit capitoltheatre.com or call (905) 885-1071.

PORT HOPE Capitol Theatre presents
‘BED & BREAKFAST’ by Mark Crawford
Directed by Rob Kempson
Set and Costume Designer: Joyce Padua
Lighting Designer: Michelle Ramsay
Sound Designer: La-Nai Gabriel
Dialect Coach: Alison Deon
Associate Sound Designer: Christie Heriot
Stage Manager: Tamara Protić
Assistant Stage Manager: Wei Qing Tan

Performers: Kyle Golemba, Amir Haidar

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