Not every show can pull off a start with a solid dose of the hoary ’70s chestnut “Afternoon Delight,” but the song’s goofy vibe suits Jeff Gould’s amusing play, It’s Just Sex, quite well.
The characters and plot developments are somewhat believable, and several roles seem to exist merely to represent a particular point of view, but for all that, the script is convulsively funny and the actors are terrific.
Theatre Cambrian’s production is a crowd-pleaser, and the low-key direction of Jeff Burton keeps the staging casual but the laughs at maximum.
When Joan (Angel Mannisto) comes home one day to find her husband Phil (Devon Hilderbrandt) with a prostitute (Kathryn Piché), she internalizes her anger and continues with her plans for that evening’s dinner party. The guests, amiable horndog Carl (Kalvin Blanchard) and his masseuse wife Kelly (Kelsie Carroll), along with repressed computer tech Greg (Marc Lariviere) and his domineering lawyer wife Lisa (Linda Heldman), are unaware of their host’s marital strife, but it gradually becomes apparent.
Joan suggests the group play a drinking game, sharing secrets about themselves, and before the evening is finished, realities of all three marriages will be revealed.
Angel Mannisto’s performance succeeds on a couple of levels, full of caustic wit but underlain with inner turmoil. Her character, Joan, is largely putting on an act throughout most of the play, but she layers this act with subtle hints of what Joan is actually feeling, including a quick but indelible moment just before the end of act one.
Kalvin Blanchard attracts plentiful laughs as the blunt but surprisingly philosophical Carl, and Carroll is lively and charming as the fundamentally decent Kelly. Marc Lariviere brings a fine nervous sardonic energy as Greg, and his twitchy glee in a scene in which Greg is confidently prepared for an argument with his wife is priceless. Heldman is controlling yet sympathetic as Lisa, and Devon Hilderbrandt is first-class as Phil, ever so cocky and sex-crazed.
Theatre Cambrian has a cozy domestic set, which represents the homes of all three couples, is classy but somehow impersonal, which actually works for the show.
Theatre Cambrian’s production of It’s Just Sex will run Sept. 14, 15, 21 and 22 at the theatre at 40 Eyre St. Tickets are on sale at the box office or by phoning 705-524-7317 ext. 0. More information can be found at theatrecambrian.ca or by visiting Theatre Cambrian’s official Facebook page.