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'Myth of the Ostrich' by Matt Murray

Produced by Here for Now Theatre at the Stratford Perth Museum, 4275 Huron Road, just west of downtown Stratford, Ontario.

Produced by Here for Now Theatre at the Stratford Perth Museum, 4275 Huron Road, just west of downtown Stratford, Ontario.

Joe Szekeres

(Photo credit: Ann Baggley. L-R: Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Lauren Bowler, Barbara Kozicki Beall.)

Matt Murray's script delivers plenty of humour while tackling a significant social concern related to the family unit.

(Thank you to Here for Now Theatre for allowing me to review the final preview of ‘Myth of the Ostrich.’ Please be informed that there may have been some slight alterations made to the show since the time of my review).

It’s summertime in Toronto. Holly (Sara-Jeanne Hosie), a single mother and writer, is dressed slovenly. She is passionately conversing on the phone and discussing possibly writing another book and using colourful language. Holly is straightforward. She doesn't put on airs and doesn't care about others' opinions of her.

Pam (Lauren Bowler), a conservative and affluent Roman Catholic mother, unexpectedly visits Holly's residence. Her 15-year-old teenager Evan is dating Jodie (Holly’s teenager), who is of a similar age. The two often spend time at Holly's place. After coming across a letter written by Evan to Jodi that contained inappropriate content, Pam decides to meet Holly to gain insight into the situation and understand the relationship between the two young people.

The conversation starts off cordially but changes when Holly's unfiltered companion, Cheryl (Barbara Kozicki Beall), arrives and joins the discussion. Hailing from Newfoundland and working as a bartender while residing with her musician boyfriend, Cheryl has a questionable history. Additionally, she has a side hustle that could potentially pique Pam's interest or raise her eyebrows in doubt.

Throughout the hour-long conversation between these three ladies, Pam’s unseen lawyer husband keeps telephoning his wife and asking inane questions such as what’s for dinner. Sometimes we don’t know what he questions because Pam may respond with an “I don’t know.”

According to the programme description, what follows in the plot: “One lie leads to another, and another, on this outrageous roller coaster ride of misunderstandings.”

Here for Now’s encompassing theme this summer is ‘Season of Mercy.’ I’m reminded of Portia’s line from ‘The Merchant of Venice’:

“The quality of mercy is not strained/It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”
I find it inspiring that both Matt Murray and Here for Now emphasize the value of demonstrating mercy, kindness, and compassion towards others, mainly when unexpected challenges arise, as indicated by the play's title. Holly, Pam, and Cheryl effectively convey this message through a combination of humour and drama.

Director Sheila McCarthy nicely brings Matt Murray’s script to life through her strong belief in showing these qualities to others. Monique Lund's set design reveals Holly's current state of mind with her extremely cluttered and cramped-looking porch. Although Holly prefers to spend her summer days there, the porch is a complete mess of mismatched outdoor furniture, papers and items scattered everywhere, and laundry hanging haphazardly on a clothesline. Lund's costume designs also accurately reflect the social status of the three female characters.

Murray's script is filled with hilarious humour that hits the mark. However, be aware that some of the suggestive jokes are explicit. For example, I raised my eyebrow at the revealing name of Cheryl's boyfriend's band. I wondered how future audience members might respond, given that the woke world today can be easily offended.

The strong ensemble comedy performances of Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Lauren Bowler and Barbara Bozicki Beall are well-balanced and never spiral out of control. When revealed, the meaning of the play’s title is skillfully handled with care and grace by the three of them.

Sara-Jeanne Hosie's bravura performance is characterized by the outspokenness of her Holly, who possesses a keen ability to detect insincerity and has no tolerance for it. Near the end of the play, Hosie’s Holly also becomes that strong pseudo-maternal influence Pam has probably never felt in her life.

Lauren Bowler’s Pam embodies a solid contrast to Holly. Pam is someone who has always followed the conventional path laid out for her without straying away from it. She has been instructed to fulfill the roles of a responsible daughter, wife, and mother. When Pam finally does cut loose from the bonds that restrain her in front of Holly and Cheryl, Bowler is a riot but also manages to imbue a sense of troubled sadness in a woman who has not thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the life she has.

Kozicki Bealls’ Cheryl possesses a distinct and quirky personality, unlike Holly and Pam. Monique Lund's costume design for Cheryl perfectly captures her eccentricity. However, despite her bold exterior, there is a hidden sweetness to Kozicki Bealls’ Cheryl, which becomes evident once the play's title is revealed.

Final Comments: An excellent choice to open the summer season of outdoor theatre in Stratford.

See ‘Myth of the Ostrich.’

Running Time: approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes with no intermission

‘Myth of the Ostrich’ by Matt Murray runs until July 15 at the Stratford Perth Museum in the new performance tent at the back of the beautiful 7-acre property. The address: 4275 Huron Road, just west of downtown Stratford. For tickets, call the Box Office (519) 272-4368.

To learn more about Here for Now Theatre, visit

HERE FOR NOW THEATRE presents ‘Myth of the Ostrich’ by Matt Murray
Directed by Sheila McCarthy
Costume & Set Design by Monique Lund
Performers: Lauren Bowler, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Barbara Kozicki Beall

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