Volume 92, Issue 33

Tuesday, November 3, 1998



Claymore brings Scrooge to dramatic life

Photo by Elisabeth Feryn

HIM? YOU LIKE FOUR-EYES BETTER THAN ME? The Grand Theatre presents the world premiere of Ethan Claymore. The ghostly comedy runs until Nov. 14.

By Christina Vardanis

Gazette Staff

What would have happened if the ghost from Christmas present in Ebenizer Scrooge's tale had been a used car salesman?

Such a portrayal appears in the world premiere of Norm Foster's comedy Ethan Claymore, a modern-day Christmas Carol, currently on stage at The Grand Theatre.

Ethan Claymore, played by Ric Reid, is an egg farmer, widowed five years earlier and slowly slipping away from all social ties in his tight-knit community. Neighbour and friend Douglas McLaren (Jerry Franken) sets out to save Ethan from isolation by coming to his aid in the middle of a winter's night with a "to do" list, which he feels will get Ethan back on his feet.

That includes the purchasing of a Christmas tree, something Ethan hasn't done for five years and setting up a chance meeting with a new school teacher in town, Teresa Pike (Catherine Fitch).

Although McLaren has good intentions at heart, the effectiveness of his scatter-brained methods is questionable. When Ethan receives notice of his brother Martin's untimely death, his reaction is stoic to say the least. The appearance of Martin's salesman spirit comes as a shock, which opens Ethan's eyes to the benefits of being amongst the living, rather than the walking dead. Before his admission to heaven, Martin has an assignment to put "someone" on the right path, but this is the extent of his knowledge.

Reid's performance of Ethan is fitting, as he effortlessly portrays the bland, mundane and uninspired lifestyle to which Ethan has become accustomed. Ethan's relationship with Teresa unfolds sweetly and innocently, although it does appear a little stiff. This is partly due to Finch's traits as the marmish school teacher, but more chemistry between the two would have aided the emotional bond between the audience and the couple.

The life of the play stems from the characters of McLaren and Martin Claymore. Franken's portrayal of the mindless neighbour is hilarious, surfacing as a cross between Three's Company's Mr. Furley and Cheers' Cliff Claven.

Martin Claymore is hysterically played by David Ferry, whose comedic timing is impeccable. He embodies all the negative connotations carried with his profession as a car salesman, with an arrogance truly disheartening to watch. The transformation of his soul to one worthy of its heavenly destination happens alongside Ethan's metamorphosis into an emotionally active person.

The script is quick, witty and intelligent, although the strength of its humour is not unleashed until the second act. Most of the hilarity stems from the dialogue's confusion, which occurs when Ethan is forced into speaking to Martin's spirit and his guests at the same time.

Set in Ethan's living room, kitchen and bedroom, the set is simple but used effectively. As both Ethan and Martin take mental trips into the past, the house becomes that of their childhood and their roles turn from present day brothers to their own ancestors. Adding to this mystical feel of the set is a trick latch on the front door which allows for some heavenly intervention when Martin appears on the scene.

Ethan Claymore is a truly heartwarming comedy/ghost/love story which renews the viewer's faith in family values and the importance of friendships. It appears just in time to give its viewers the warm fuzzies for the upcoming holiday season.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998