1 exquisite Fringe LEMOINE

The Exquisite Hour

By Teatro La Quindicina, Venue 12 (Varscona Theatre)

During the last hour of sunlight, when the setting sun travels through more of the atmosphere, the illumination comes from soft, indirect light. In The Exquisite Hour, Edmonton playwright Stewart Lemoine has used this beguiling time of day as a magic opportunity for two lonely people who reach out to share a moment in time.

This Fringe revival takes place in the backyard of one Zachary Teale (Jeff Haslam recreating his original role) a “supervisor of merchandise” in Abernathy’s Department Store. He’s having a quiet drink before wending his way to the local eatery for a lonely supper. Suddenly there is this person, a Mrs. Darimont (Belinda Cornish), interrupting his reverie.

“Will you give it to me – will you let me have this hour?” she implores.

Who could say no?

Before long he’s intrigued and having nothing else to do, he goes along.

As in another of Lemoine’s droll and whimsical successes, Pith!, a fascinating catalyst leads a companion to whole new worlds of imagination. She says she’s an encyclopedia salesperson – but she’s the most considered and utterly charming salesperson you’ve ever met. The two begin to act out their own stories born out of random readings from the encyclopedia. She’s earnest – he’s captivated and bemused by this fascinating woman and, as we watch, the closeted Zach opens up like a prairie crocus in early June.

Haslam is as usual a most empathetic performer, and uses a comic approach to delve into authentic emotions. Cornish, starting off briskly, sets the pace with a dogged determination and provides a good foil for Haslam’s comic turn.

Singly they are impressive – together they redefine chemistry.

Slowly and easily, elevated with laughter and driven by the growing attraction of two lost souls, we watch as the sun sets over the hills bathing the world in gold and the hour does indeed become exquisite.

This is obviously a heartfelt work by the playwright (and indeed by all involved). The play touches both the heart and the funny bone and after the laughter generated by this small, graceful gem has receded, you’ll find yourself smiling at the memory.

5 out of 5