THIS TOWN Reviews 2012


WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, Winnipeg MB
★★★★★

Half-baked theories about the murder of a crusty piemaker consume the citizenry in New York writer-performer Carol Lee Sirugo’s twisted comedic tribute to Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.

Sirugo and Jonathan Kaplan portray 12 characters who air their suspicions on the anniversary of the piemaker’s death. Kaplan gives a tasty turn as a gin-soaked floozy, Sirugo is devilish fun as a librarian given to hysterics and both actors take comic turns as the baker, an accident-prone hunter and other townsfolk, one of whom knows a dark secret lurking behind their white picket fences.

Solid performances, fun props, a sweet plot and deft-pacing add up to a winning recipe for this 2002 fringe hit.

— Pat St. Germain

 

CBC MANITOBA, Winnipeg MB
★★★★

Our Town by way of David Lynch, this two-person/multiple character comedy is a satisfyingly twisted take on small town life.


The unnamed title town is "a nice place to hang one's hat," even though the local pie maker/cat lady has died a mysterious death... and the town's denizens include a mulleted gun nut, a conspiracy-minded librarian, and a woman convinced faeries scratch her lottery tickets.


Yes, it's all a little kooky. And we get various takes from these screwball characters on who the pie maker really was - and what did her in.


But the characters are the focus here, and writer/performer Carol Lee Sirugo and Jonathan Kaplan bring each to life vividly, and often with hilarious results.


Fans of character-based comedy, or those looking for good quirky laughs, will enjoy their visit to This Town.


— Joff Schmidt


EDMONTON SUN, Edmonton AB
★★★½

If you're a cat person, you may want to avoid this comedy about strange happenings in Small Town, USA.



Oh, don't worry. No cats are harmed in this production. They don't even talk about hurting cats. Some butterflies get gassed, a few birds are shot, a family of four run over, but the cats are fine. It's just that they don't come off very well.

Well, neither do the humans, for that matter. So never mind. Playwright Carol Lee Sirugo and co-star Jonathan Kaplan play a dizzy array of eccentric, possibly completely insane townspeople who each have a slightly different version of the story surrounding the death of local grandmother and award-winning pie maker Betsy Morgan. She was found baked into one of her own pies — cops said it was an accident — pies she became famous for after being struck by lightning and surviving to be imbued with magical pie baking powers. Everyone wanted these delicious pies, even the cats. Sadly, the recipe, a closely guarded secret, died with Betsy.

Yes, it's a murder mystery. Whudunit? We meet Betsy's tightly-wound granddaughter Clara, who can't bake a pie to save her life. She's married to a bird-shooting, mullet-headed redneck Billy Bixley. They have a son, Billy Jr., who's secretly in love with a mandolin-playing goth chick named Mariko. Billy Jr.'s friend Sammy, who tells his version of the story with rap music — has an alcoholic mom who's secretly in love with Billy Sr. Meanwhile, an old woman named Dottie believes that malevolent faeries killed Betsy, whom many of the townspeople didn't like very much because her pie-related fame, or maybe getting struck by lightning, turned her into a real bitch. And then there's Carl. Carl is a cat.

It's fun to watch these actors work with minimal props, like an entire kitchen drawn crudely on cardboard boxes, and scramble to deliver the convoluted story, which gets more complicated and more fun with every kooky character they pile on.

It ends up as a cute and well-acted piece without much deep meaning, save to comically illustrate how different people can get the facts wrong in so many different ways. The moral of the story: Keep an eye on your pies.
— Mike Ross