By Martin F. Kohn
The play, says Bud Mitchell, “is the story of my pursuit of a good woman.” Molly Graham, the other main character, disagrees. She says the play “is the story of a messed-up life.”
Actually, Norm Foster’s two-actor comedy “Old Love” is a physics lesson, a study in what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object.
The irresistible force is Bud (Thomas D. Mahard), who was smitten by Molly (Ruth Crawford) on the day they met, 25 years ago. They were both married to other people at the time but even as the play begins, with him divorced and her widowed, she barely knows Bud is alive. Once she acknowledges his existence she is revealed as the immovable object.
You probably have a sense of how things are going to end up; the prolific Foster (53 plays, according to his web site) didn’t get to be Canada’s most-produced dramatist (his web site, again) by writing an unrelenting string of downers. It’s the journey, not the destination, that counts here and Foster got to be oft-produced because he’s an insightful and very funny playwright with deep affection for his characters.
Lynn Lammers’ production at Tipping Point Theatre honors those attributes in every respect. There is no shortage of laugh-out-loud lines, and Lammers allows them to land organically – no punched-up, hey-folks-here-comes-a-joke delivery allowed, and Mahard and Crawford execute the directive with ease.
For example, in a flashback Molly is a young mother with a 10-month-old son. The only time I get any sleep, she says, is when I’m driving. Imagine how a standup comedian might deliver the line. Now imagine the opposite and that’s how they’re doing it at Tipping Point.
Not only do Crawford and Mahard play Molly and Bud at different stages of life, they also play their respective spouses and a passel of passing characters with authority, aided by a few props and articles of clothing, all strategically arranged away in storage compartments that also serve as sitting surfaces in Daniel C. Walker’s handsome, many-faceted set.
First produced in 2008, “Old Love’s” theme of irresistible-force-meets-immovable object has antecedents in Lanford Wilson’s “Talley’s Folly” and Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” (for starters). The characters in “Old Love” are, well, older. That time may be running out gives Bud more incentive to get on with his wooing. The same idea makes Molly more resistant; she believes she is unattractive and buys her daughter-in-law’s dismissive comment that “people her age don’t fall in love.”
But love knows no age, Foster points out, and if you can laugh on the way there, so much the better.
Tipping Point Theatre, 361 E. Cady St., Northville. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday (except April 20) through May 4, plus 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 16. 1 hour, 50 minutes. $25-32. 248-347-0003. http://www.tippingpointtheatre.com