Norm Foster is Canada’s most produced playwright. His 2004 play Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun is a charming, touching show about dealing with personal loss, unexpected life events, and the luck of meeting (or not meeting) someone who could change your life. The show is now on stage at West End Studio Theatre (WEST) in Portsmouth, opening Act One’s Summer Festival.
Expectations were high for this local production, directed by Stephanie Voss Nugent, Act One’s founding executive director. Reproducing an acclaimed play by an internationally respected playwright is a tall order. But, thanks to the talents of Nugent and a stellar cast of Seacoast actors, the opening-night performance on Thursday exceeded all expectations.
The production introduces guests to some interesting characters. Robert (Tomer Oz) is a disabled man with the mentality of a 7-year-old. He lives with his mother, Claire (Carol Davenport), who adores him but is dying and wants to find the right person to look after him when she’s gone. Holly (Catherine Colby) is a young, single woman who has been impregnated by her college professor, Simon (Roland Goodbody). Simon has marital problems and needs to distance himself from Holly.
Tomer Oz was a perfect casting choice, playing the disabled Robert with an aura of innocence and humor. As Claire, Carol Davenport embodies the kind of mother we would all love to have. Catherine Colby has a wry and often humorous quality as Holly, and yet she shows the strength her character needs to survive. As Simon, Roland Goodbody demonstrates love and sympathy in spite of his bad choices. The show also features a small role for Alan Huisman, who brings his usual elegance to the character of Dr. Andrews.
Nugent’s directorial choices are smart and subtle, and she also designed the simple, effective set for the intimate space at WEST. And the show’s musical score offers lovely transitions from scene to scene.
In show business, the term triple threat refers to a performer who can act, sing, and dance. In tonight’s play, we have another kind of triple threat: a great script, a clever director, and a talented cast. More appropriately, the show is a triple treat for Seacoast audiences.
Act One’s production of Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun runs through Aug. 13 at WEST, 959 Islington St., Portsmouth. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m., with an additional matinee on Sunday, Aug. 7. Tickets are $20 ($18 for students and seniors), or $16 with a festival pass ($14 for students and seniors). Act One’s Summer Festival continues through Sept. 3. For tickets and more information, call 603-300-2986 or visit actonenh.org.