Norm Foster’s ‘Self-Help’ presented by the Quebec Art Company, plays it for the laughs

Norm Foster’s ‘Self-Help’ presented by the Quebec Art Company, plays it for the laughs

Photo: Natalie Keller, Ladd Johnson, Johanne Morin, and Patrica Grimaud perfect a scene from Norm Foster’s Self-Help. Credit: Normand Brassard / Québec Art Company.

By Andrew GreenfieldSelf-Help_poster_May2017

Farce, so say the far cleverer than most of us boffins at Merriam-Webster, is ‘A light dramatic composition marked by broadly satirical comedy and improbable plot.’

As far as this interpretation of Self-Help goes, that’s a pretty accurate description of what the Québec Art Company (QAC) is offering this time out for their Spring 2017 play.

The QAC’s current production, directed by Mark Lepitre, sees a six-strong cast comprising three men and three women come together for a run of four shows between Thursday 4 May and Sunday 7 May (Holland School, 940 Ernest Gagnon, Quebec City).

This comedy, first performed in 2002 on the boards of the Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Ontario, sees Hal and Cindy Savage (Ladd Johnson and Patricia Grimaud), a couple of depressed, second-rate actors desperately yearning for the big time and all the trappings of fame and fortune that go with such a status. They positively lust after the finer things in life. While eking out a living in two-bit dinner theatres across the country, a lightbulb moment eventually occurs to Cindy while reading a ‘bunch of drivel’ in a self-help book. Hey presto, they’ve reinvented themselves as top-end gurus of the genre.

These high-performing snake oil salespeople, expertly peddling the excruciating ‘Savage Way’ and ‘Success Is An Inside Job’ are rapidly propelled on a steep upward curve to financial success beyond even their wildest dreams.

Personal and professional development issues troubling you? Not a problem. Hal and Cindy to the rescue with their bestselling books and sold-out seminars.Self-Help_Success_May2017

While their bank balance balloons, their love for each other plummets in the opposite direction.

Mix in reporter Jeremy Cash (Doug Werden) with an eye for a story, hapless police officer Detective Snow (Stephen Desjardins), brazen agent Ruby Delvecchio (Johanne Morin), and nervous Bernice (Natalie Keller) the Savage’s recently-hired maid, then you have a cute cast able and intent on delivering the laughs.

You will laugh. That’s pretty much guaranteed.

Director Mark Lepitre, a QAC veteran, brings the characters to life and ensures the comic timing is spot on.

The muck-raking reporter, the hopeless romantic of a detective, the frazzled maid, the brash, pushy agent, not to mention the self-help sages, play off each other well.

Inevitably (given the characters), the newspaper industry, motivational speakers, and the police are ready-made targets for witty barbs in this bawdy farce.

A rug with a body in it features prominently. But what happens to it and why is it there?

Come and find out for yourself.

Just don’t open the study doors.

As ever, such a production could never happen without the willing, helpful, and talented army of volunteers working behind the scenes as part of the crew.

For Self-Help this included: Mark Lepitre (Director), Peter Black (Production Manager), Sharon MacLeod (Stage Manager), Sheila Mawn (Prompter), Linda Partridge & Lisa Tang (Stage Crew), Mary Thaler (Sound), John Niederreiter (Lights), Lisa Shortt (Set Design), Sylvain Huard (Master Carpenter), Stephane Drolet & Cheryl Rimmer (Set Construction & Painting), Lynn Maynard & Kyle Chapman (Costumes), Lynn Maynard & Vicki-Ann Hügli (Make Up & Hair), Anne Letellier-Black, Jonathan Black & William Black (Box Office), Peter Black & Ladd Johnson (Publicity), Heather Hawke (Poster), Normand Brassard (Photography), Mark Lepitre (Front of House), and Hélène Gosselin (Refreshments).

Norm Foster’s Self-Help, directed by Mark Lepitre, opens Thursday, May 4 at Holland School (940 Ernest Gagnon), at 8 pm, with performances Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6, with a matinée at 2 pm on Sunday, May 7.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for students and seniors and $40 for a family of four.

For more information and to reserve tickets:

The Cast:
Natalie Keller (Bernice), Patricia Grimaud (Cindy), Johanne Morin (Ruby), Ladd Johnson (Hal), Doug Werden (Jeremy Cash), and Stephen Desjardins (Duncan Snow).



Categories: Arts & Culture, Reviews

About Author

Andrew Greenfield

Andrew Greenfield moved to Quebec in 2009. He is part of the team responsible for the publishing company behind and Life in Québec Magazine. He has been involved with online and print media since 2001. He is passionate about cricket, is a qualified coach, and his real ambition is to start a cricket team in Quebec City – something he freely admits is probably beyond him. Follow him on Twitter @GreenfieldAndy

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