If the name Mark Crawford doesn't mean anything to you, it will. Crawford, the hottest new Canadian playwright, is about to be introduced to Sudbury audiences and Artistic Director John McHenry couldn't be happier.
“The word funny is simply not enough for this play,” said McHenry. “I was lucky to be working at Blyth Festival when 'The Birds and The Bees' premiered. Audiences fell in love with it instantly with many returning again and again to laugh out loud.”
Crawford's widely popular comedy takes place on a bee farm, close to the turkey farm where things aren't buzzing in the reproduction department. Gail (Karen Wood) the bee lady is underwhelmed when her separated daughter Sarah (Julia Dyan), turkey inseminator, returns home. Life is about to become complicated in more than the birds and the bees department.
Add Ben (Wilex Ly), a university science student and neighbour, Earl (William Vickers), to the mix and theatre comedy magic ensues. Perhaps old Earl will have a few lessons on the birds and the bees for young Ben. Then again, maybe not.
“The Birds and the Bees” is about so much more than endearing characters in high-stakes situations: crop failure, loss of livelihood, separation, pregnancy — so much more than love, sex and reproduction.
“Yes, its about relationships, but it has universal themes...the planet, the environment, our future,” said Wood, who clearly loves the script. “When you stop laughing, you realize you've learned something. You can't help but go away thinking.”
That's what makes Crawford's play so much more than the pervasive frothy situation comedy.
“This play opens discussion,” said Vickers, who plays Earl. “Yes, we all laugh at Earl's sexual bravado — he's completely ridiculous at times — but he's confronted by the same loneliness as many seniors. And, perhaps unknown to millennials, a senior's interest in sex actually expands with age.”
Now there's a topic for conversation after the play. Audiences will “laugh their butts off,” said Vickers.
“Earl says hilarious things in the play, but he's also lyrical and poignant,” said Ly. “ I love listening to him in rehearsal.”
The characters are so real, audiences will be drawn in.
“The mother/daughter relationship between Gail and Sarah will have everyone nodding in recognition. We've all been there,” said Julia Dyan, who has the joy of playing Gail's daughter in “The Birds and the Bees”.
When asked about the comedy, the entire cast apologizes.
“We're sorry to be a bit vague about the comedy, but we can't divulge anything before the play opens. Mum's the word.”
Laughter is everywhere at STC and Crawford is everywhere in Canada.
“This play brought people to their feet in five different Ontario theatres last summer,” said Wood. “Now it's Sudbury's turn.”
“It's a short run, April 11- 21 including Easter Weekend,” said McHenry. “Bring your guests but leave the little ones at home.”
Tickets are available at sudburytheatre.com or by phoning the STC Dibrina Box Office at 705-674-8381. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. with some 2 p.m. matinees.
Come learn how truly sexy “Gobble, Gobble” can be.