I went to see a little show called Wingfield Lost and Found the other night… it’s featured at The Dofasco Centre in Hamilton, Ontario for a short run. I went in knowing little about it, other than that it was a show about Canadian farmers. Oh joy. Needless to say, I didn’t have the highest expectations. But guess what? I loved it, and you would too.
Wingfield Lost and Found is actually the seventh play in a series of plays about a character by the name of Walt Wingfield, a big city stockbroker turned farmer as well as his family, friends, and neighbours. The characters and the concepts are the work of playwright Dan Needles, who has here written an accessible, engaging, hilarious, and sometimes touching show about Wingfield’s struggle with an unexpected drought and the events surrounding it.
What is particularly gripping about Wingfield Lost and Found is the 10 or so wonderfully varied, humourous characters featured. What makes them so gripping is that they are all protrayed by one man. Rod Beattie, a veteran Canadian actor, performs what is essentially a two hour monologue while portraying a cast of distinct characters all on his own with not only great skill and ease, but excellent comedic timing.
The appeal of Wingfield Lost and Found is the comedy within. While it will never have you rolling in the aisles, the show never runs dry on the laughs and Beattie has the expertise to milk them for all their worth. There is one particular portion of the show, about an endangered eagle and some of Walt’s chickens that was positively hysterical and had me pretty damn close to rolling on the floor. There is some clever writing at work here, but one wonders if it would even come off half as effectively without the perhaps essential support of Rod Beattie. He is the show, and has been for at least 20 years ever since Dan Needles began working on the whole Wingfield series.
There is very little here to mention in terms of production value. Lighting is basic, set is minimal and for the most part useless, almost all props are mimed, and there are perhaps four sound cues for the entire two hours. But none of that matters… this isn’t your traditional play. This is a man telling stories for two hours. But he does so brilliantly. For a monologue about a drought in Canadian farmlands, Wingfield Lost and Found was a show I found surprisingly riveting. In fact, by intermission, I had thought little more than half an hour had passed and was shocked to discover that it had already been over an hour. Let Beattie’s incredible talent and Needles’ clever writing whisk you away for the night. That two hours will fly by and leave you more than satisfied.
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