Review: The Love List – let’s just say I am infatuated

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What if you could create your perfect mate?  Or have the opportunity to try out various character traits on a potential partner, adding and changing those that perhaps don’t quite work for you?  Such is the premise behind the very funny The Love List, currently on stage at the Vancouver Playhouse.

Bill (Peter Anderson) has just turned the big 5-0.  To mark the milestone Bill receives, from best-friend Leon (Norm Foster), the 2003 equivalent of an eHarmony compatibility test from a dating service run by a mysterious gypsy woman.  To find this perfect match, Bill must list the ten qualities he is looking for in a mate.

No sooner does Bill complete the list than in walks Justine (Cailin Stadnyk), the real-life incarnation of that perfect paper woman.  As Bill begins to fall for Justine, the duo start tinkering with the list: a little less ambition here, a little more humour there.  Not all the tweaks work though as Bill and Leon discover, most times with disastrously funny consequences.

The Love List
Norm Foster, Cailin Stadnyk & Peter Anderson in The Love List.  Photo by David Cooper.

The casting of Norm Foster as Leon, who is also playwright, is simply perfect.  But it isn’t just because Foster can bring an insight into his character that no one else can match, for he is also a damn good actor with near perfect comedic timing.  Foster obviously understands the nuances of his own script and as a result helps make the chemistry required by best-friends Leon and Bill genuine.

Anderson is sufficiently nerdish as the statistician Bill playing nicely as foil to Foster’s more confident and sarcastic Leon.  Stadnyk easily moves through the whole gamut of characteristics that Bill and Leon try on for size, all with a lilt to her voice that continually reminds us that what we see isn’t quite real.

Pam Johnson’s realistic bachelor pad set design works well, piled high with Bill’s research and Lighting Designer Adrian Muir and Costume Designer Patricia Smith complement both the actors and the action on stage.

Director Max Reimer has once again proven his mettle for comedy giving us a briskly paced two hours from this light-weight, somewhat predictable and very funny play from Canada’s most produced playwrights.

In the end though, since I take my own love seriously, let’s just say I am infatuated with The Love List.

4of5starsThe Love List
Vancouver Playhouse
6 March – 10 April 2010

What do you get a friend for a 50th birthday present? Well, if you’re a guy, you buy him a “love list.” Bill is to put pen to paper and come up with a list of ten qualities that define the perfect woman and according to the Gypsy where Leon made this dubious purchase, she will appear. After much collaboration the list is complete and much to their surprise, she appears. Bill’s world is turned upside down as he learns more about himself, perfection and the pursuit of happiness. Tickets available online or by calling 604.873.3311.

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