Soulpepper’s Idiot’s Delight, written by Robert E. Sherwood, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1936. Overall, I found the script dreadfully boring and I am not sure what drew director Albert Schultz to it. There were some aspects that I enjoyed, but I found myself drifting a fair amount. In general, I enjoy scripts set in this era because it reminds me of the beauty that existed in a much simpler world. Yes, they were facing a major war, but in many ways life somehow appeared to be easier.
Idiot’s Delight takes place at a rather deserted resort in the Italian Alps. All the action takes place in and around the bar. It brings together an eclectic mix of international characters that become stranded when trains come to a halt as borders are closing and the war is edging closer. Dialect coach Diane Pitblado certainly had her work cut out for her with Italian, Russian, Austrian, and British accents to contend with.
What makes Idiot’s Delight worth seeing is the fine acting. The cast acted their asses off to make this dull script somewhat palatable. Dan Chameroy is charming as the second-rate showman and manager Harry Van. Chameroy’s performance was a throw back to an old school style of acting, reminding me of Bogart at times. Looking stunningly elegant, Raquel Duffy did some nice work as the mysterious Russian Irene and embodied leading lady.
Evan Buliung makes the forgettable waiter character Dumpsty one of the standouts of the night. It was hard not to fall in love with such a charismatic interpretation. I thought all the gals that played the showgirls were great (Steffi Didomenicantonio, Katherine Gauthier, Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster, Oyin Oladejo and Hailey Gillis). Their glittery song and dance number was one of the high points of the production. Mikaela Davies and Gordon Hecht were perfect as the young newlyweds Mr. and Mrs. Cherry.
Lorenzo Savoini’s costumes were terrific and hit all the right visual notes (who knew shoes could steal a scene). Also, really liked his simple two-story set.
Idiot’s Delight would probably resonate with the older crowd who may have experienced this era first hand, but for me, it really seems dated. I enjoyed the way the script incorporated music and while not a musical, it brought levity to the rather serious tone of the piece. The second act was stronger than the first and the endnotes were powerful.
Idiot’s Delight is on stage until February 19, 2014. For tickets: Soulpepper