Father knows best but mother gets her way

The Kanata Review, May 21 issue

By Sheila Davis

In Hollywood they say never act with children or animals, but in Kanata Theatre's last presentation of the season, "Life with Father", Heather Walt and Pat Carroll more than held their own against the strong competition of four boys and a large, china cat. Pat Carroll gave an excellent performance as the apparently domineering father, ruling his family with an iron will, but in fact being gently manipulated by his charming, feminine wife, played beautifully by Heather Walt. As the play progressed it became clear that the mother ruled the household and got her own way in everything eventually; even to the baptism of her cantankerous, irreverent husband.

Jonathan Kuhn made a fine job of his first performance with the Group as the oldest son, Clarence, and portrayed the agonies of transition into manhood and first love very convincingly.

Peter Williams as John, a boy still in the practical, untouched period before sexual awakening, gave a consistently good performance. David Boss as Whitney and Andrew Williams as Harlan, the two younger sons, were natural and believable and coped with the 'occasion' remarkably well.

Although the Group was on much safer ground with this well known play with its good dialogue and constant action, full credit must go to the co-directors, Dewi and Eufron Williams for their excellent handling of the cast. Every detail was well thought out and managed effectively. At times there could have been problems when several of the cast were on stage at one time, but the action and positioning were skilfully handled.
The quality of this production was maintained by a strong supporting cast. Sian Williams gave a good performance as the first of a series of maids driven away by the outbursts of the 'head of the household'. The other maids were played by Ann Rombeek, Marianne Wilkinson and Sally Rose, with Ann Dubras as the "old timer" who understood the ways of her employer.

Rosemary Kenneford gave her usual competent performance as the visiting cousin, with Linda Hanson in tow as the young girl who provided Clarence's first, painful contact with true love. Bob Horsey was suitably unctuous as the clergyman canting his way through visits to the Day household. John Gilliland and Earl McLaughlin played the two doctors.

The Group had obviously put a great deal of hard work and thought into this production which provided most enjoyable family entertainment. The set was extremely well-designed and arranged so that the cast was able to move naturally. The scene changes and technical details were handled very efficiently. Praise should also go to all those concerned with the costumes - the women's gowns were well designed and most attractive.

The Kanata Theatre Group is having some difficulty finding a permanent place to construct their sets and it seems a great pity that this enthusiastic group should suffer simply for the sake of a suitable working place. In these days of "potted entertainment" every encouragement should be given to a group of people prepared to work hard to provide welcome, live entertainment to the community. Let's hope that this problem can soon be solved.

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Life With Father
Kanata Standard, May 1975


Who really was the benevolent dictator in Kanata Theatre Group's presentation of "Life with Father"? Certainly Pat Carroll, as Clarence Day Senior, would have had the audience believe he was, but Heather Walt, as his wife Vinnie, controlled the Day household with charm and firmness.

Eufron and Dewi Williams directed their excellent cast in a thoroughly audience-pleasing comedy which revolves around the activities of a turn-of-the-century family. Some things haven't changed much -- family, religion, politics, young love, death and taxes were as important then as now. But, in International Women's Year, Father's comment to his eldest son, during a person-to-person talk, that "a woman doesn't think at all, they just get stirred up", thankfully seems less relevant and amusing than in life with Father's time.
Pat Carroll added another outstanding performance to his past successes. His ability to play comedy is a great asset to the Group and it is a pleasure to hear him use his voice so skilfully.

Heather Walt gave an effective performance as the wife who takes her job of getting her husband into heaven seriously. It was a sensitive first performance from Jonathan Kuhn as the eldest son and the three other young men who played the sons, Peter Williams, David Boss and Andrew Williams acted their roles with naturalness and charm.

Rosemary Kenneford was delightfully coy as the family's favourite cousin and Linda Hanson played her role as the eldest son's romantic interest nicely. The smaller roles were well-handled by the rest of the cast, especially Ann Dubras as the maid, Margaret, and Bob Horsey as the santimonious Reverend Dr Lloyd.

The production staff did an impressive job. Ted Watson designed an interesting period set, the properties supported the mood of the set well and the costumes, designed by Mary Mauger, were attractive and colourful.

This was an excellent finale to the 1974-75 season.

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Good Life With Father

Journal Review By ROBIN DORRELL

Kanata Theatre's production of Life With Father is a perfectly delightful event and the play is shown to good advantage. It is being presented in the Earl of March High School, Kanata.

Written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Grouse, this popular comedy for a long time held the record for a Broadway run. Based on the humorous sketches by Clarence Day, the centre of which are his mercurial father and cunning mother, the play first appeared in 1939.

The play is actually a fond look back at Day's Victorian parents who are really stereo­types of middle class mothers and fathers of days gone by. Dad believes the way to han­dle women is to "be firm," while Mum gets her way by crying and thus weakening Dad's resolve.

Judging by the guffaws and cheers from Friday night's audience, this is still the name of the game in respect­able March Township house­holds.

But even for those unable to identify with this stage mum and dad, the family rows are never harsh and always fun. Would that all family rows were such!

Directed by Dewi and Eufron Williams, Kanata Theatre's cast is first rate. Pat Carroll is appropriately gouchy as father but there's the hint of the pussy cat underneath. Heather Walt as his wife Vinnie is downright excellent and captures to perfection that female talent for covering native smartness with what appears to be dimness, thus not threatening spouse's ego.

There are four children in this family, all boys, and moving they are played — youngest to eldest — by Andrew Williams, David Boss, Peter Williams and Jonathan Kuhn. It's a super quartet with Jonathan Kuhn having the most to do and doing it beautifully.

There are many others in the cast, all good, and they are well dressed by Mary Mauger, well lit by Bill Williams, and played before a fine set designed by Ted Watson that is given admirably detailed attention by the props people.

All in all, Kanata Theatre's Life With Father is a job well done indeed and extremely entertaining.

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