If you’re driving along Pigeon Lake Road towards Bobcaygeon this weekend, and you notice from the corner of your eye a massive pair of blue polka-dotted pair of underwear hanging off the side of a barn, you are not seeing things. Globus Theatre has unveiled the biggest pair of undies in the world — at 70 feet wide and 40 feet tall — to promote their latest production Knickers! A Brief Comedy.
Written by Sarah Quick and directed by James Barrett, Knickers! was first performed at Globus Theatre in 2007 and, in the nine years since, the show has taken on a life of its own. Published by Playscripts Inc, a publishing firm based in New York City, Knickers! has been performed throughout Canada and the United States, and has even had performances in New Zealand.
A story of four women banding together to help their community in times of struggle, Knickers! is distinctively Canadian but has universal themes of economic depression, hope and friendship.
Knickers! revolves around the fictional Northern Canadian town of Elliston Falls, which is in the midst of an economic and social crisis. When the paper mill closes after decades of employing half of the town’s residents, the mass job loss trickles down to affect the entire community — putting the town in a state of financial and emotional ruin.
In an attempt to turn things around, local politicians brings in a worldly tourism advisor, Amanda (Sarah Quick), who quickly finds herself overwhelmed by the job ahead of her, as well as the social apathy and hostility of the townspeople to an outsider who doesn’t understand the workings of their town.
Joining the local Weight Watchers group, Amanda befriends three lifelong residents of Elliston Falls — Mary (Nikki Duval), Terri (Jeanine Profeta), and Barb (Tina Morcau) — who have all been directly affected by the plant’s closing. As Amanda gets to know the women and their stories, the four bond together to find a solution to their town’s problem … and that solution comes in the form of custom undergarments.
Can a wild idea by four regular women create an industry big enough to save an entire community? Elliston Falls’ future is riding on the success of women’s panties.
Knickers! is uplifting summer theatre that succeeds on multiple levels. As a collective cast, Nikki Duval, Jeanine Profeta, Tina Moreau and Sarah Quick play real women who are relatable to the audience. They are not extraordinary women in extraordinary situations, as much as they are ordinary women who face hardships head on to better the world in which they live.
They are not glamorous or heroic, but they are likeable and strong. They represent the women who are in our homes and our workplace — our wives, our sisters, our mothers, and our neighbours. These are women who drink beer, eat chips, and gossip, but also have true emotions and hardships that they share in personal monologues and with one another.
Knickers! is also a distinctively Canadian production. From the dialect to media references to geography, the show is as Canadian as maple syrup and a plate of poutine. Although it may go overboard once in a while, I can understand how theatre groups south of the border would find this a charming aspect of the show, and it does give local audiences a chance to laugh at our national quirks.
But where Knickers! really hits home is the fact that it’s still as relevant today as it was when Globus first performed it in 2007. Everyone who has lost a job, looked for a job, or had to struggle on minimum wages, can relate to the stories and the emotions that the characters in Knickers! emote from the stage. Their story is very much our story.
Knickers! is a feel-good comedy about four women who follows through on a crazy idea, changing lives and pulling a community back from the brink of despair. It’s a story that gives the message that you can’t make your world better by just sitting around and talking about it. You have to get up and take action, take risks, and make things happen.
Knickers! A Brief Comedy runs from July 27th to August 6th at Globus Theatre at the Lakefield Arts Barn, with dinner available before evening performances. For more information and tickets, call the Globus box office at 705-738-2037 or visit www.lakeviewartsbarn.com.