House full of salty, comical satire

Gordon Jones
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Theatre review

Way back in May 2007, l last reviewed a show at the LSPU Hall. After the long hiatus, I returned on Thursday for the opening of Amy House's one-woman show, which has played for the past two years at summer theatre festivals in Gros Morne , Grand Bank and Stephenville. With that provenance, you would be right to expect an accessible show with broad popular appeal.

Alluding to the process whereby you can lose money conveniently at your local convenience store , "Scratch and Pull" is a comic/satirical narrative in multiple voices, set in fictional Nestle Cove in rural Newfoundland.

Amy House is making them laugh at the LSPU Hall until Sunday. Submitted photo

Way back in May 2007, l last reviewed a show at the LSPU Hall. After the long hiatus, I returned on Thursday for the opening of Amy House's one-woman show, which has played for the past two years at summer theatre festivals in Gros Morne , Grand Bank and Stephenville. With that provenance, you would be right to expect an accessible show with broad popular appeal.

Alluding to the process whereby you can lose money conveniently at your local convenience store , "Scratch and Pull" is a comic/satirical narrative in multiple voices, set in fictional Nestle Cove in rural Newfoundland.

Furnished with bubble gum machine, understocked metal shelving, a colourful poster for Super Nevada, and a tray of scratch pads and pull cards, the sketchily but effectively evoked Mini Millie's Mini Mart is managed by Priscilla, on parole from Stephenville penitentiary, while owner Millie spends the takings of her scratch-and-pull operation gambling in Las Vegas.

House plays Priscilla minding the store, confiding in the audience, and transforming herself also into a variety of Priscilla's customers. Young and old, male and female, large and small, they all confide in the store manager.

Salty, but not offensive

Language is colourful, sometimes salty, but never offensive. The personalities thus conjured up are admittedly more caricature than character, but that is to be expected in an affectionate portrayal that both celebrates and satirizes working-class and not-working class culture of rural Newfoundland.

A former fish plant employee tries to come to terms with computers at CompuCollege, a mother with eight babies in seven years earns an enviable monthly income from Social Services, while another has the welfare cheques rolling in like caplin.

Swelling herself up, miming and posturing, adjusting the register of her voice, the petite House effects some broadly comic impressions of men, but it is the female figures that are most grounded.

What Priscilla's customers share in common is their propensity to spend money on tickets rather than groceries. This is the culture of bingo and fruit machines, scratch cards and Lotto 6/49, of dreams of hitting the jackpot, and of the actuality of making it from one welfare cheque to the next on a diet of Vienna sausages and candy bars.

Amy has quite a following, male as well as female. She had the large opening-night audience with her all the way to the standing ovation that recognized a versatile and unflagging single-handed comic performance.

Except for the laughs, there are not many rest points in this 95 minutes of vocal and physical mimicry. House does well to maintain energy level and momentum.

Directed by Greg Malone, written, performed, and produced by Amy House, "Scratch and Pull" continues at the LSPU Hall until Sunday, commencing at 8 p.m. On closing day there is also a 2 p.m matinee.

Gordon Jones

Swelling herself up, miming and posturing, adjusting the register of her voice, the petite House effects some broadly comic impressions of men, but it is the female figures that are most grounded.

Organizations: Amy House, Priscilla's, Grand Bank Mini Mart Social Services

Geographic location: Stephenville, Newfoundland, Las Vegas Vienna

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