The second stop on our Ontario Theatre Tour was Port Stanley, a very cute town of about 3000 people on the North shore of Lake Erie. We had a very odd chicken dish at Two Forks and fantastic ice cream from Broderick’s then strolled along the river before finding our way to the unassuming Port Stanley Festival Theatre where the “all Canadian”-mandated company presented (what else?) a Norm Foster play.


The summer season’s locals-friendly structure presents six productions from May to September, the shows scheduled back to back rather than repertory style. Though this set-up makes the use of the word “festival” a bit confusing, it’s the most practical solution for a company bringing in and putting up talent from Toronto and gives the locals a constant rotation of something new to check out. With fees and taxes, single tickets are about $50 and the 6-show subscription only saves you $36, which feels pretty pricey for the small town market but, for those who can afford it, six shows over the course of a summer plus off-season events and a playwrights festival is a treat many towns of Port Stanley’s size could only dream of.


Though the theatre itself feels a little unpolished with its lack of real lobby and insufficient signage, the company has clearly invested in their productions. Foster’s Wrong for Each Other features a sprawling realistic set designed by Joshua Quinlan and known Toronto talent (familiar names dot the cast lists throughout the upcoming productions). The play itself is clearly quite dated with a few cringe-y jokes and strange gender dynamics but that’s Norm Foster and, if the festival is determined to perform exclusively Canadian work, at least one show a year is probably going to be Norm Foster. I’d be curious to return to see a production of a new play as their dedication to development is one of the PSFT’s most intriguing facets.


Director Liz Gilroy’s focus on pacing mostly pays off as the play flies by at enjoyable speed and the jokes zing. At times Alexandra Brynn as Norah prioritizes said pace over meaning or emphasis, which is a shame but hopefully something that will improve throughout the run so the pace can stay up without compromise. Jeff Dingle fares a bit better as the problematic Rudy, charismatically goofy but able to calibrate so his few moments of tragedy really hit. The costumes don’t reflect character as clearly as they could and aren’t neutral enough to support the quick onstage transitions that are central to Gilroy’s vision and more use could be made of the multi-space set by dressing different areas for a bit more versatility.


Overall, Wrong For Each Other is a charming and competent piece of theatre symbolic of a strong company infrastructure. I’d love to see PSFT scale back their production values a bit to hopefully make tickets a bit more accessible while maintaining their commitment to bringing professional artists to Port Stanley.