FINDING REGINA by Shoshana Sperling, directed by Kelly Thornton, with Sperling, Teresa Pavlinek and Jeremy Harris. Presented by Nightwood Theatre and Theatre Passe Muraille in association with Globe Theatre in the Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson). Runs to March 9, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 2:30 pm. $23-$32, Sunday pwyc. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNN
It might be -42 celsius (with thewind chill -78) in Regina, but in one particular hospital waiting room long-held secrets are melting like ice cubes in a poolside Cancun drink.In that room, Shoshana Sperling's Finding Regina brings together three 30-something high school friends to await news about Charlie, a member of their school gang who's attempted suicide. Rae (Teresa Pavlinek) has come from Vancouver and Annabel (Sperling) from Toronto, while Josh (Jeremy Harris) has stayed put and burrowed into a life of pickup hockey, pot and local gossip.
While Sperling's show doesn't travel new roads, she knows how to get a laugh while building solid relationships between the characters. The strength of the writing -- and director Kelly Thornton's production -- is the chemistry between Rae and Annabel, two friends whose closeness dissolved when one became the attractive, popular date and the other settled for the taken-for-granted sidekick who could sleep with anyone because the guys wouldn't brag about their conquest.
Sperling neatly captures the high school small talk -- classmates' history and geography -- that opens the play, dialogue between people who are trying to avoid certain topics while not knowing how to broach others. Wife and mother Rae turns into a giggly teen again when Josh shows her some attention, while women's studies grad student Annabel uses an academic vocabulary like protective big guns shooting salvos at the other two.
Despite the occasional touch of melodrama, Finding Regina explores love-hate relationships -- with people or a hometown -- using simple truths, and in a bittersweet ending suggests that it's possible to move beyond old emotional scripts and go home again.