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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Theatre review: The Goodnight Bird is funny, touching, and a little predictable

West Vancouver’s Kay Meek Centre, traditionally a venue for touring productions since it opened in 2004, is branching out to produce its own shows. In its initial offering they have partnered with Montreal’s Centaur Theatre Company and have brought that company’s Artistic Director and ex-Vancouverite Roy Surette in to direct Colleen Murphy’s The Goodnight Bird, a funny, touching and somewhat predictable dramatic comedy.

[pullquote]A tender and warm, but very funny play, The Goodnight Bird often stretches credibility and becomes pretty predictable. Thankfully the actors make the show worthwhile.[/pullquote]Lily and Morgan Beaumont are a long married and childless couple getting ready for bed. Their upper middle class life has become a routine of light bickering and complacency. Morgan recently suffered a heart attack and Lily wants him to stay calm and take his meds.

Suddenly there is a loud crash when an injured, and possibly high, vagrant is discovered crawling into their bedroom seeking a bandage. He has apparently leapt from the roof of their building. Perturbed and worried, the elderly couple let him have a bath, helping to revive him enough that he is soon running around their bedroom naked, causing Morgan to quip “this is the worst kind of acid flashback”.

A tender and warm, but very funny play, The Goodnight Bird often stretches credibility and becomes pretty predictable. Thankfully the actors make the show worthwhile.

Christopher Hunt’s hangdog deadpan delivery as Morgan gets laughs and his depth of feeling brings heartache as he and his wife struggle to keep their relationship alive. Graham Cuthbertson is eccentric and sweetly alive as the often child-like Parker Parker. His playful sexuality is so joyous and sweet that when he gets very familiar with Lily it’s more endearing than creepy. Nicola Cavendish is bossy brassy barking quirky lines like “try to cheer up!” and “people like him need to be talked to in a calm authoritative voice”. Her open hearted tenderness and pain, about past regrets and an unknown future make Lily beautiful and real.

The lovely bedroom set is by Pam Johnson, but as with most bedroom scenes it is challenging for any director to make the room hold interest after an extended period of time and The Goodnight Bird is no different as the actors stand, sit on bed, sit on chair, and repeat.

The script will have you thinking of movies like Down and Out In Beverly Hills and Harold and Maude and most of the scripts by Norm Foster. The last half hour of the play suffers somewhat as Parker leaves and the couple keeps re-discovering what impact he has had on their lives. There are not many surprises left and it all plays out in a tender, yet predictable way.

The mostly older audience on the night I attended seemed to relate to, and greatly enjoy the situation our couple found themselves in. The play is funny and sweet (plus there is a naked man) that ultimately makes it a good night out.

The Goodnight Bird by Colleen Murphy. Directed by Roy Surette. A Kay Meek Centre and Centaur Theatre Company co-production. On stage at the Kay Meek Centre Studio Theatre (1700 Mathers Ave, West Vancouver) through Feb 14. Visit for tickets and information.

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