Mar 21

Vertigo Theatre’s ‘The Lonely Diner’ is a quiet thriller

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

Shawna Burnett | Citrus Photography


Things are pretty quiet in a small diner in rural Ontario. It’s 1928, the height of prohibition in the States and the dawn of a new way of looking at the world. Lucy watches that world through magazines and ‘moving pictures’ from her little life in her diner, longing for a little bit of dazzle. This desire drives the action in Vertigo Theatre’s The Lonely Diner. This production is carefully crafted and well directed, with the threat of violence just sitting on the surface the entire time.

The play tells of Lucy (Shawna Burnett), her husband Ron (Declan O’Reilly) and their daughter Sylvia (Lara Schmitz) running a small diner in rural Ontario. Things are fairly quiet while they make a living serving their customers, but Lucy is lonely in her marriage. She dreams of moving to the city, where she can have a splash of art and glamour in her life.  Then Lucy gets a visitor whom she is to call Mr. Mascarpone (Stafford Perry), he brings along his friend Snorky (Curt McKinstry) and things get a whole lot more interesting.

Mr. Mascarpone claims his car has broken down on the road but soon enough he is in the kitchen making pasta and sauce. Once Snorky arrives, Mr. Mascarpone’s demeanour changes and there is this underlying threat of danger. Director Kelli Fox ensures the tension in the play is drawn out with the assistance of Jonathan Lewis’ sound design, which helps to drive the action within the story. Scott Reid’s set design is quite lovely with the small kitchen in the centre, complete with old kitchen and stove-top and a rooftop cutout in the background, so that Alison Yanota’s lighting design can shine through.

Lara Schmitz, Curt McKinstry, Shawna Burnett, Stafford Perry | Citrus Photography

The Lonely Diner 
has a dynamic cast, especially in Perry and McKinstry. Their partnership is simultaneously dangerous and playful, while McKinstry is absolutely a perfect mobster. Hanne Loosen’s costume design has him in a pinstripe suit and snazzy dress shoes - even his gun is shiny.

The only weak point of the play is Sylvia’s age; as a young adult, the sense of danger is less impactful than if she were a child.

Vertigo Theatre’s The Lonely Diner runs until April 8. More information is available online.

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