What happens when love goes missing? That is the premise of Francesca Barnett Cowan’s first play Close To You, which plays at the North Street Church as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival.
The play is set in Halifax and centers on a relationship between a quirky (and forgetful) zoologist named Jaime and a piano teacher named Sean, whose happily ever after gets thrown off kilter by a handsome doctor and a sudden shock, but likely not in the ways that you are expecting.
Barnett-Cowan has written a very promising play here with strong dialogue, interesting characters and a good sense of storytelling, arc and a fascinating premise about the nature of love. There were some aspects of the play that I thought could be developed farther, at the moment the plot largely hinges on a number of substantial coincidences which makes the story feel more contrived than I think it needs to be. I would also encourage her to delve even deeper into the intimate crevices of these three characters and to give their relationships with one another even more unique and specific qualities that set them apart as individuals.
The acting in the piece is uniformly strong. Barnett-Cowan plays Jaime with the perfect mixture of sweetness, feistiness and exuberance. Sean Skerry plays Sean and he gives a particularly captivating performance of a charming sort of “Every Man” who gets driven to the brink. Kevin Baker plays Anderson (Andy), the doctor, with diffident intensity.
Garry Williams directs the piece with fantastic use of creative set pieces, especially a street lamp, which gives the play a sort of whimsical feel, along with a fantastic choice of music and some great bits with the piano. I also found the way that the ending was written and staged to be one of the most powerful and memorable moments in the play.
I hope that this play continues to get developed, it is teeming with potential and Barnett-Cowan is a playwright with exciting promise and a strong team of other artists helping to bring her work to life.
Close to You plays at the North Street Church (5657 North Street) at the following times:
Sunday September 2nd at 9:10pm
Monday September 3rd at 4:00pm
Saturday September 8th at 6:00pm
Sunday September 9th at 5:00pm
It is $7.00 to book tickets please visit this website or call (902) 999-7469 or visit the Box Office at the Seaport Farmers’ Market at Pavilion 20 on Marginal Road. Tickets are also available at the venue ONE hour before the show.