Round House Theatre's 'Odd Jobs' has universal appeal

February 07, 1991|By Winifred Walsh | Winifred Walsh,Evening Sun Staff

The American premiere of "Odd Jobs," a whimsically humorous import from Canada by Frank Moher that touches poignantly on important social issues, is on stage at the Round House Theatre in Silver Spring through Feb. 17.

Round House is a professional company employing members of Actors Equity Association. Directed with sensitive insight by Jeff Davis, this excellent production never bogs down in cheap sentimentality. The characters are portrayed with such simple clarity the audience should have no trouble relating to the universality of their problems.

The terrible plight of a woman's lonely old age, a man's loss of job and self-esteem, his French wife's passionate struggle for a better life, are all concerns addressed intelligently in Moher's little gem of a play.

Threaded with lyrical philosophy this notable work shows the development of a new kind of interdependent family formed out of economical and human need.

The action takes place in Edmonton, Alberta, where Mrs. Phipps, an elderly widow and a former mathematics teacher, lives alone. Awash in a morass of confused memories she murkily mixes the present with the past.

Tim, a young neighbor married to a French woman, Ginette, asks the widow to hire him on as handyman. He has been laid off from his factory job and must be "retrained" for another.

Supported by his wife he feels dehumanized and useless. Doing odd jobs for the widow he finds sanctuary and a return of self-respect. Mrs. Phipps coaches him in math for his job preparation. Ginette wants to take a computer processing position in another region but Tim balks at leaving his "safety zone".

Vivienne Shub turns in a solid performance as Mrs. Phipps expressing well the pathos, humor, stubbornness and forlorn state of old age.

Marty Lodge is excellent as Tim, hard driven by the demons of anxiety. Jane Beard is fine as his wife desperately wanting to improve her lot in life.

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