FRIDAY, MAY 4: A play exploring class differences and relationships by Canada’s most produced playwright is to premiere in Bermuda this month.
A First Name Basis, a comedy by Norm Foster, tells the story of successful novelist David Kilbride and his maid of 28 years, Norwegian Lucy Hopperstaad.
The wealthy novelist has been through some difficult life experiences and has become a recluse.
One day he realises that his long-serving maid knows just about everything there is to know about him, yet he knows nothing about his maid, not even her first name.
A First Name Basis, brought by the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society, plays out the conversation they have one evening including his most probing questions into her life.
Funny yet poignant
Foster told the Bermuda Sun: “They have this discussion and a lot of things about the two of them are revealed — some funny and some a little poignant.
“There is a lot of comedy with some touching moments, like many of my plays, and there is a lot about relationships too.
“They discuss her love life — that is an important part of the play. She’s been his maid for 28 years and has never married. She has had a couple of men in her life and he presses her about this to find out what went on.
“Another thing that comes to light is the fact he has no idea how much he is paying her and it shocks him when he learns how much she’s making at his employ and what she has done with the money.
“There is a lot about the different classes that they reside in.
“It might compare to Educating Rita and plays like that.
“It’s a play that is in real time and it’s what happens over this two hours in their lives.”
The play will be directed by David Nairn while Foster himself is to play the part of Kilbride, who he describes as “very straight-laced and not having a personality that jumps off the page. He is shy around women, no good at sports and a brainiac”.
Foster will share the stage with Patricia Vanstone who plays the sarcastic, dry-witted maid, Lucy. Foster and Vanstone met in 1982 and have acted alongside each other in several plays before, including The Melville Boys.
Foster first found his love for theatre after accompanying a friend to an audition of Harvey, and wound up getting the part of Elwood P Dowd.
Two years later he penned his first professionally-produced play, Sinners, which was produced by Theatre New Brunswick and directed by Malcolm Black who went on to direct his widely successful play The Melville Boys.
Foster has been the most produced playwright in Canada every year for the past twenty years. His plays receive an average of one hundred and fifty productions annually making him, by far, the most-produced playwright in the history of his country.
He says that this is likely down to the way his work lifts the spirits of his audiences.
“I think it’s because there aren’t too many playwrights in Canada who write comedies. Most are trying to write the all-Canadian profound play — you try that once and you spend everything you had inside then you go away and you don’t do anything else, ever again. I’m just writing stories about ordinary people and I think a lot of people can identify with that and it has worked to my advantage, I guess.”
This will be the third play that Foster has brought to Bermuda — his first was Here On The Flight Path performed at the Hamilton Princess Dinner Theatre and then he brought The Long Weekend to BMDS.
Speaking of why he chose to premiere the play in Bermuda, he told us: “I love Bermuda and Bermuda’s audiences. The play is slated to be produced next year here in Canada and I thought Bermuda would be a great place to try it out first.”