'PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM': Theatre Review by Andrea Holstein

Theatre Western’s fall play this season is Woody Allen’s Play it Again, Sam. To give you all a quick intro to the piece, this comedy centers on Allan, who has recently been left by his wife and is looking for love in New York City in the late 1960s. Allan’s two best friends, Dick, and his wife, Linda, coax Allan through the process of dating. This process is helped along (or hindered) with the introduction of Allan’s “shoulder angels”: his idol, Humphrey Bogart, and his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Nancy.

The first half of the play focuses heavily on the development of the characters. Allan, played by River Ewing, paces back-and-forth across the stage, caught up in relentless—and ridiculous—neurotic fantasies. Almost all of Allan’s dialogue is monologue. He talks about his failed marriage quite a bit, and a brilliantly done lighting cue signals a flashback of Allan’s wife (Erica Seetner) ending their marriage. All of the monologues are perfectly delivered, and River deadpans through the trademark Woody Allen offhand remarks like a champ. Frankly, every one of his lines takes a turn that you did not expect, and you can’t help but chuckle every time.

The entrance of Humphrey Bogart, played by Jack Copland, blurs the line between reality and fantasy. There is no lighting cue here, but the costume right out of a 1940s film noir signals to the viewer that Allan is still caught up in a fantasy. Bogart functions as the “good angel” in this piece, constantly reassuring Allan of his eventually success with “the dames.” Everything about Bogart—from the accent and lingo, down to the (vapour) cigarette—was hilarious and Jack did a phenomenal job embodying the spirit of Bogie.