Bingo! She Says / He Says

A story of sentimental nostalgia and belly busting humour has travelled from a Guysborough, Nova Scotia stage to Neptune Theatre’s Fountain Hall. Daniel MacIvor’s Bingo! premiered last year at Mulgrave Road Theatre and plays an encore (with the entire original cast) in Halifax until November 4th.

“Welcome Back Class of ‘82” reads a sign suspended from the ceiling and Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite” fills the room, as five Cape Bretoners come back together for their high school reunion. No more are the days of mixed cassette tapes or smoking in the local bar, but their three-decade old nicknames, as well as the rules for their own personal drinking game, have remained.

Insecure and ditsy Bitsy (Heather Rankin), tough postal carrier Boots (Emmy Alcorn), party animal Heffer (Ryan Rogerson), nerdy Nurk (John Beale) and alpha dog Dookie (Marty Burt) become more and more intoxicated the night before the reunion, skimming off the layers of high school personas to reveal secrets and true colours.

Friday night’s audience gave MacIvor’s play a stunning review. The crowd did not simply giggle but often broke into uproarious laughter and impromptu applause so much so that it was sometimes difficult to hear the next line. This is not to say that the actors botched their pacing. In fact all five were nearly flawless in this respect, as well as at embracing their characters during more serious scenes. Rankin’s timing and technique were particularly impressive (one drunken scene where she had to act like she was a terrible singer was quite entertaining) suggesting her stage presence exceeds her musical talent and fame.

Whether you finished high school in the 80s, decades before or have yet to graduate, Bingo! promises a fun night out, offering you two hours of escape from the hum drum or stress of daily life. ~ Michelle Brunet


Daniel MacIvor’s Bingo! tells the tale of five forty-somethings re-connecting for their 30th High School reunion. Dookie (Marty Burt) and Nurk (John Beale) have moved away to successful careers, while the others have remained ‘home’.

Drinks and remember-whens flow freely as scenes shifts from a Sydney hotel room to the local bar and back again. Old cassettes are thrown into a ‘boom-box’, with characters singing along to the soundtrack of their teen years.
Unlike the baby-boomers of The Big Chill, however, these Gen-Xers lack the societal milestones of reference, instead slipping stealthily though the icy cracks of age with marriage, children, and monthly car/mortgage payments.

Still, prevailing themes of lost innocence and faded dreams are true to all generations, making this production relevant and relatable – everyone over the age of forty has asked the question ‘How did I get here, and where am I going?’

MacIvor’s replies ring familiar; ‘this didn’t turn out the way I expected’, ‘no more first times for anything’, ‘nothing lasts’, ‘people get used to everything’, ‘happiness is fleeting’ and ‘we are Kings who forgot we were once Princes’.

Later lamenting the fading health of their parents, the five friends reflect upon the inevitability of their own decline.

Heady topics, indeed, but brilliantly offset by the Cape Breton playwright’s hearty, home spun humour; the laughs are a mile-a-minute, with well-worn jokes re-worked to sound fresh and funny. In particular, Heather Rankin’s ditsy Bitsy steals smiles (and hearts) with her quirky, perky persona. Ryan Rogerson also shines as the lovable Heffer, the perennial party-boy who bickers and banters with the bittersweet Boots, played to near-perfection by Emmy Alcorn.

The real draw here, however, is the dialogue; fluid, and with a healthy dose of regional nuance, the dialect successfully bridges the gap between performers and audience, smashing the ‘fourth wall’ with a sure mix of sass and sentiment.

To that end, each performer enjoys a short soliloquy at centre stage, doling out opinions and observations on the tiny details that make up the bigger picture of our daily lives. In doing so, we are reminded that the aging process includes trading in our telescopes for magnifying glasses. ~ Stephen Patrick Clare

Bingo! until November 4 at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax.



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