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The Love List

Norm Foster, Peter Anderson, Cailin Stadnyk. Photo by David CooperThe Love List
by Norm Foster
Directed by Max Reimer
Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company
Vancouver Playhouse
Mar 6 -10, Mar 25 - April 10, 2010

Vancouver, BC:  Confession number one! I came home from opening night of The Love List and in accordance with my New Year's Resolution to get my thoughts down before they get forgotten (see Queen Lear), went straight to my computer to start on my review. But instead I found myself writing a list! 

With a little difficulty I came up with the Top Ten qualities of my Ideal Man. Isn't it always easier to think of the ten things you don't like?  I carefully wrote my Top Ten as legibly as I could. We've all  heard about mistakes due to doctor's illegible handwriting.

But alas - my expectant ear heard no  knock on my door.  Maybe it's our condo access security system that blocked Mr.Perfect from reaching my door. Or maybe you really need the right paper from that Gypsy match making entrepreneur at "Got A Match."  Anyone have her address? or email?

Confession number two is that I haven't laughed as much at a play for months. Yes, yes, I know I always go on about "strong narratives" and "finely drawn characters" and "complex thought-provoking themes" - but after a surfeit of " experimental, avant-garde, leading edge, technologically dazzling theatre" it felt really good to just hang loose and laugh at Leon and Bill and the ridiculous situation they found themselves in.

Leon, played larger than life by Norm Foster himself, is a  swaggering best-selling novelist accustomed to fame and adulation - and much more - from his female fans.  His long time friend, Bill (Peter Anderson), is a nerdy shy statistician who cant imagine that a woman would even want to kiss him.

As a 50th birthday gift, Leon buys Bill  a gift-card from a match-making service run by a gypsy woman who guarantees to find the perfect match. The only catch is that Bill has to define his perfect match - by writing his desired Top Ten qualities on the Love List card.  Enter Justine  (Cailyn Stadnyk), who turns out to be exactly what the statistician ordered.

Pam Johnson provided Bill with a nicely designed apartment complete with the meticulously organized stacks of research papers that most non-nerds would assume was just clutter. Hmmm - maybe it was a sense of familiarity of order among chaos that made me love her set so much. I also thought  Patricia Smith's costumes perfectly delineated the three characters.

Under Max Reimer's direction the performance was perfectly paced, and all three actors were terrific. Cailin Stadnyk could be anyone's dream girl - she is just lovely - and her changes in quality were hilariously convincing. I enjoyed Anderson's self-deprecating nerd  and Foster's portrayal of Leon was so spot-on that it made me wonder how much of the real Norm is in his character. I mean Foster is described as "the most-produced Canadian playwright."

So it's not profoundly world-altering drama but The Love List is a rollicking comedy, thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience who gave it a standing ovation. Really!

I had a great time, laughed a lot  and left the theatre relaxed and happy. Go and see The Love List. I bet you will laugh too.

For tickets: call 604-873-3311 or book on line at