Fulfilment is something each of us strives for as human beings. It’s one of those things we can exist without, but makes us feel our life has no real meaning without it.
In Scarborough Players’ latest show, Enchanted April by Matthew Barber from the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim, two women set out to change their unhappy existence by taking a giant risk to find their happiness.
In the 1920s when this story is set, it was unpopular for a woman to express feeling unfulfilled or invisible in their marriages as they were expected to remain quiet, smile and keep up appearances that everything is just fine.
But one courageous woman named Lotty (Marisa King) inspires another woman Rose (Karen Brown) to take a chance at moving past their stagnation, and find ‘paradiso’ or heaven, by renting a castle in Italy for the month of April.
Living in London, England, the constant rainy weather doesn’t help their blasé existence, so when Lotty sees an advertisement to rent a castle in Italy for those who ‘want wisteria and sunshine,’ she sets seeks out Rose to share in her daring adventure.
The women could not be more different. Lotty is childlike, a dreamer and outgoing, while Rose is more reserved and hesitant.
Lotty and Rose must risk a lot to go to Italy, mainly their marriages.
Lotty’s husband Mellersh (Mike Scott), is a proper English businessman, oblivious to his wife’s unhappiness, and Rose’s husband, Frederick (Richard Burdett), is an author who has forgotten his wife years ago.
But it seems their unhappiness is bigger than the risk, and the strangers become fast friends and even find two other women to join them: Older widow, Mrs Graves (Catherine Lenihan), and a glamorous starlet, Lady Caroline Bramble (Megan Powell).
Once they arrive, Lotty is thrilled, Rose soon comes around, and eventually the castle, including the presence of its fiery housekeeper Costanza (Elizabeth Van Wyck), and the owner, a kind man named Antony (Giancarlo Consoli), takes effect on each of the women in different, wonderful ways.
This show is light-hearted, funny and makes you feel like you can just be with these ladies in their reality. It also serves as a reminder that your circumstances can change with the right attitude, support and the belief that you deserve better.
King is marvelous in her role of Lotty. Her enthusiasm is infectious and you can’t help but laugh at her quirks and her honest one-liners. Brown also gives an amazing performance, and it’s lovely to see her character blossom from unhappy and reserved to smiling and exuberant. As a duo, they are a pleasure to watch on stage.
Add to this, the talents and presence of Lenihan as the rigid Mrs. Graves, whose character also undergoes a beautiful transformation from grumpy to joyous, and Powell as Megan, who finds friendships and a new outlook on life, this foursome of misfits fit perfectly underneath the Italian sunshine.
Elizabeth Van Wyck as the fiery housekeeper is an amazing comedic presence on stage, and the men’s performances balance out the show well.
Consoli as Antony is a calming presence and reminds the ladies what a gentleman is. Burdett as Frederick plays an interesting character with two faces amazingly well, and Scott is charming and funny as Mellersh, who figures out how to unwind in the funniest way.
From the performances and the beautiful Italian-themed set, the direction and the atmosphere, this show has everything a production needs to be an entertaining success.
Enchanted April runs until April 25, 8 p.m. at the Scarborough Village Theatre, 3600 Kingston Rd. Tickets are $20. For tickets, call the box office at 416-267-9292 or visit www.theatrescarborough.com