Thursday night was a first for the Huron Underground Dramatic Society, as they performed a rendition of the Broadway musical, Company.
The show was staged at the Beaver Dam at Huron, which made for a cozy and intimate setting. The performance was sold out and the room was packed with excited theatre-goers, drinks from the bar in hand.
Despite the tiny location, the actors made it feel like a full-scale theatre. The musical numbers and live band were impressive and the performances were gripping, immersing the audience fully in the play.
The story followed the character of Robert (played by Matthew Patterson), a bachelor in New York who is surrounded by couples. As he spends time with his married friends and his own dates, portrayed through short vignettes, Robert examines his life and what he wants from it.
Initially a cynical observer of his friends’ not-so-perfect lives, his own loneliness and unhappiness gradually start to show.
The audience too start out simply observing the snapshots they’re given of the characters’ lives, but become more drawn in as the show turns the lens closer and closer on the inner lives and turmoil of the characters.
Despite this dark theme, the play was also witty throughout. Every actor played up the black humour of the script (“You’re not married now?” “Not since the divorce”), with each hilarious line letting out more glimpses of the tensions in their characters’ lives.
One highlight of the musical was Hannah Berney’s portrayal of Amy, a reluctant bride, who commanded the stage with a manic energy in "Not Getting Married Today." The character’s frenzied portrayal seemed to unveil the buried emotions underlying the play, dialling them up to boiling point.
Joanne, played by Lexa Cutler, was also fantastic to watch. Her song, the bitter and biting "The Ladies Who Lunch" was a powerful performance, channelling something similar to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
There were also lighter songs, such "Side By Side By Side" which provided a moment of fun in the show with dancing and top hat twirling.
Patterson also got to show off his individual acting and singing skills with some impressive solos — the emotional "Being Alive" standing out — but he worked best as part of an ensemble, where he made the role his own through reacting to the rest of the cast in funny and subtle ways.
In contrast to the lively start of the show, the end was quiet and poignant. Robert, who begins the play blowing out candles on his birthday in front of his excited friends, ends it alone. There’s not much closure, just the hovering questions and anxieties thrown out by the characters throughout the performance.
Societal ideas about marriage and relationships have definitely changed since Company made its 1970 debut. But HUDS’ performance felt current and relevant, focusing not so much on the setting and events of the play, but the complexity and depth of the characters. It shone a light on the fear, cruelty and love that people can recognize hidden inside themselves and others; and did it in a funny, skillful and moving way.