Review: Bingo! (Factory Theatre)

BINGO!

Bingo! is a witty story of the camaraderie among old high school friends on stage at Toronto’s Factory Theatre

Daniel MacIvor‘s Bingo! opened on Thursday evening at Factory Theatre. I wanted to see it because I read that MacIvor wanted to write a play that his brother would love and Bingo! is that play. He wanted his brother to think that it was hilarious and to tell his buddies and their wives to go see it. I don’t know about his brother but it worked for my friend Elaine and I. We both enjoyed it.It wasn’t hilarious but it was funny. Five friends get together at their 30th high school reunion. No real surprises in the action. They call each other by their ridiculous high school nicknames, get drunk, act like teens, reminisce, and spill secrets. I thought they might play Bingo but – thankfully – they didn’t. Bingo! was something they did in high school. Drink shots til someone pukes and wins the game. The others all yell “Bingo!”. It makes as much sense as any other drinking game. The strong ensemble cast works well together. David Keeley is “Dookie”, the king. The rich, successful guy who ‘s made it in real estate. He expects everyone to follow his lead. He cheats on his wife, lies to her, and thinks he’ll never get caught. He believes that he’s the arbiter of everything. Dov Mickelson is “Heffer”, his high school acolyte who stayed in their home town and wishes for another kind of life. He’s always followed “Dookie’s” lead and lets “Dookie” treat him badly. John Beale is “Nurk”, the one who really got away. He moved across the country. He seems to be the most decent man of the three. He’s his own person. Jane Spidell is “Boots” who everyone assumes is a lesbian because she’s single, wears mannish clothes and is a mail carrier. She still lives in town and spends a lot of time with “Bitsy” (Sarah Dodd) which adds to the lesbian speculation. The women are lovely. “Boots” has a direct tell it as she sees it style while “Bitsy” is needy in a sweet way. I loved her. At the beginning of each scene one of the characters is alone on stage and delivers a monologue that tells us a bit about who they were and who they are now. “Bitsy’s” made me cry. I liked Lindsay Anne Black’s set. I could tell before the show started that it was a boardwalk, a living room (actually a hotel room), and a bar. Elaine remarked that even though some of the dialogue was cliched, it worked. Bingo! works because it is greater then the sum of the parts. There is a good script, a strong cast, tight direction by Nigel Shawn Williams, and a good set. If any of these elements had been weak the play would have been weak. It might not be the ‘Great Canadian Play’ but it’s enjoyable, charming, and funny. A very pleasant evening at the theatre. Details:

  • Bingo! is playing at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street) until June 1st
  • Showtimes are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 2 pm
  • Tickets prices range from $30.00 to $45.00 with a limited number of PWYC seats available on Sundays
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 416 504 9971, and in person at the box office

Photo of the cast of Bingo! by Joanna Akyol