Gossamer Feast (Stage 15, Holy Trinity Anglican Church)
Ah, the family dinner, site of countless tense dramas: This puckish and salty little 2009 comedy by Gerald Osborn is an antidote for everyone who’s ever doubled down on Tums wondering how on earth the nuclear family ever survives breaking bread together. And to this cosmic question, served up with a bottle of pricey bubbles, Gossamer Feast floats another quizzical thought, about theatre and life, and the scripted nature of parent-kid interactions.
We’re in a snazzy French restaurant; there’s a charming French waiter with a charming French accent to anticipate everyone’s every desire, and remember how Madame likes her filet mignon done. A mother (the amusing Ruby Swekla) is holding court, is basking in a barrage of tributes to her triumphant parenting skills from three devoted, perfectly worldly, impressively achiever sons: a lawyer, a professor, and a doctor-in-the-making, all in their leisure duds.
It’s a vision of domestic harmony, every mommy’s secret dream, a My Three (professional) Sons right out of central casting. And at the preview I was kindly allowed to attend, Trent Wilkie, James Hamilton, and Braden Price convey the kind of easy, jokey rapport that confident achievers command. Osborn has a way with light, wry dialogue.
So, what could possibly cloud this domestic perfection? Gossamer Feast twists off on that. And the fun is yours to discover; the secret is safe with me. No offence Tolstoy, but happy families are not, it turns out, all the same. Suffice it to say that there’s a backstage to family life, and its perfectly buffed surfaces conceal as much as they reveal. Surprise!