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Blyth Festival scores solid eight-ender with “The New Canadian Curling Club”

June 30, 2018

Whether you like the sport of curling or not, you will love “The New Canadian Curling Club,” which opened June 22 at the Blyth Festival Theatre.

Written by Mark Crawford and directed by Miles Potter, it's the world premiere of this play which is a magnificent combination of small-town bigotry, political correctness, and of course, curling.

A fast-paced comedy with some poignant moments, credit goes to the cast which has a good handle on the comedic timing that is critical for this show.

None is better at it than Lorne Kennedy playing the part of resident bigot, Stuart McPhail, a former champion curler, who is dragged into the “Learn to Curl” outreach recreation program by his ex-wife after she falls and breaks her hip and is unable to teach.

Adding dynamics to the situation, are the four students, played beautifully by Marcia Johnson as Charmaine Bailey, who is from Jamaica but has lived in Canada for 27 years and works at Tim Hortons; Matthew Gin as Mike Chang of China who is dating Stuart's granddaughter; Omar Alex Khan as Anoopjeet Singh of India who also works at Tim Hortons; and Parmida Vand as Fatima Al-Sayeed, a Syrian refugee.

Vocal and opinionated, and seriously politically incorrect, Stuart makes constant jabs about the “newbies.” At one point, he is waiting for all but Mike to arrive at the rink and he looks around with a scowl and says, “This must be what it's like at the U.N. (United Nations), sitting around with your dick in your hand, waiting for India, Jamaica and Syria to show up.”

Mike is aghast and urges Stuart to use more sensitive language.

But the others get their jabs in as well, noting that they would probably be learning to curl better if they weren't being taught by a racist.

The play is pure Canadiana, as everyone pauses for that “mind-blowing” moment when Fatima tries a timbit for the first time!

Eventually, Mike improves his game and Stuart takes a shine to him – that, and the fact that his granddaughter tells him to or she will never speak to him again.

One thing leads to another, and the team is entered into the Highlander Cup tournament as “Team New Canadians,” complete with fancy red-and-white uniforms. Will Stuart come onboard and help his team to victory or will he consider the group just another hopeless cause?

You'll have to get a ticket to find out.

The show has a marvellous set that looks just like a curling rink, and the lighting and sound during the curling games are incredible.

And, if the opening-night, sold-out crowd is any indication, this is another sure-fire hit for Crawford and the Blyth Festival.

The show runs until Aug. 23. Reserve your seats by calling the Box Office at 519-523-9300, Toll-Free: 1-877-862-5984 or on-line at blythfestival.com.

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