Dave Davies knows a thing or two about the comedies of Norm Foster; he starred in two of the Canadian playwright’s works at Tipping Point Theatre – “The Love List” and “Looking.” This time, however, Davies provokes laughs as the director of TPT’s season opener, “The Foursome,” a buddy comedy that focuses on human foibles, follies and friendships.
“The Foursome” is the story of four old friends who are in town for a college reunion. As they catch up over a round of golf, it becomes clear that their lives have moved in totally different directions. One lives 3,000 miles away and has remained a swinging bachelor. One has built a million-dollar company and is on wife #2. Even the guys who’ve stayed in town haven’t exactly stayed in touch. And after so much time and distance, it seems the college chums have little in common. But as we follow the foursome from tee to tee, we piece together the story of what’s shaped their lives over the intervening years, and discover that they still have the ability to surprise each other and, best of all, make each other laugh.
Rick (Patrick O’Connor Cronin) had a reputation as a hustler in college, and he seems a little too intent on making a “friendly bet” part of the golf game. Can anything he says be taken at face value? The only guy to remain single, Rick’s carefree, self-centered life may just be part of the con. Cronin plays the part to a tee.
Ted (Andrew Papa) is the successful businessman who can’t let go of a competition with Rick that dates back to grade school and a crushing defeat playing marbles. He is intense, aloof and a bit too uptight — until he’s had his fourth beer of the morning. Ted is on his second wife, a lovely woman 13 years his junior. Is she an extension of his ego, or is there more to Ted than his self-confident appearance? Papa lets us glimpse a chink in the armor without ever betraying his character’s code.
Donnie (Brandon Grantz) talks of nothing but his beautiful wife and five kids. He doesn’t golf (with five little ones, who has time for golf?) but he is happy just to spend some time with his old mates. When Donnie asks Rick how far away from the golf ball he should stand when teeing off, Rick replies, “Winnipeg.” To be sure, Donnie is no golfer, but the audience starts to look forward to each of this explosive tee-offs – and the many inventive ways Grantz can pronounce the expletive, “sh*t.”
Cameron (Patrick Loos) sells air time for the local TV network and worries about worrying too much. He seems the most desperate to get the foursome back together and on the intimate terms they shared in college. Loos quickly earns our sympathy as we glimpse the underdog he must have always been on campus, but even he has a few surprises up the sleeve of that loud orange golf shirt.
As director of this perfectly paced comedy, Dave Davies couldn’t have more fun if he were playing all four roles himself. The banter is light, the timing is expert, and the ensemble work of the cast is just terrific. They really do feel like four friends who share intimate knowledge of each other. They playfully hurl barbs back and forth and, as with so many men, try to leave the important words unsaid. What they do say, however, is calculated to get a big laugh. And eventually, the truth will out.
“The humor is spot-on while the characters are sympathetic, empathetic, blissfully innocent, and devilishly charismatic,” says director Dave Davies. “Audiences can expect to recognize someone they know within each of the four characters. You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy this one; take it from someone who has never golfed a day in his life! The bottom line is that everyone will enjoy the high quality of professional theater that Tipping Point has become known for.” Indeed, “The Foursome” is s a fun frolic and a great way to say good-bye to a glorious Michigan summer.
The set for “The Foursome” is a spectacular design by Monika Essen, complete with a sculpted tee, sand trap, rough, and a video view of the fairway. The rest of the design effort includes Lighting Design by Rob Murphy, Costume Design by Katherine Nelson, Sound Design by Julia Garlotte and Properties by Andy Gaitens; Tracy L. Spada is the Resident Stage Manager.
“The Foursome” runs through October 25, 2015. The curtain rises at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with matinees at 3 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. A special matinee performance has been added on Wednesday, October 7 at 3 p.m.
The Tipping Point Theatre is located at 361. E. Cady St. in Northville. Tickets are $30 to $33 for adults, $28 to $31 for students and senior citizens. Tickets are available by calling the box office at (248) 347-0003.