WRINKLES, by various writers, directed by Heinar Piller, with Doug Chamberlain, Corrine Conley, Gary Krawford, Denise Fergusson, Judy Marshak and Brian McKay. Presented by Heinar Piller Productions at the Winter Garden (189 Yonge). Runs to November 19, Tuesday-Saturday at 8 pm, matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 pm. $19.50-$56. 872-5555. Rating: NNN
If the idea of watching a musical revue about aging white baby boomers sounds like a newly discovered Dantean circle of hell, sit down and pass the Metamucil. It's not that bad.
Sure, many of the 28 brief sketches and songs deal with obvious sitcom-ready cliches about getting older -- memory loss, sexual dysfunction, sagging body parts. But other pieces, especially those by CBC vet Nancy White and TV writer/producer Stan (Taxi, The Mary Tyler Moore Show) Daniels, leap off the stage with their freshness and vigour.
White's ditty about a middle-aged man's affair with a younger woman captures the banality of the situation with understatement and grace, while her piece about François Mitterand's final meal adds depth to what's essentially a very middlebrow, middle-class North American show.
Daniels, on the other hand, subverts audience expectations, exploring the jumble of feelings felt by a construction worker for his gay son, or the bittersweet musings of a woman who doesn't buy the euphemisms about getting older and better.
William Lynn's piece about unappreciated middle managers offered early retirement also strikes a resonant chord or two, while his sketch about leaving voice mail -- a tired joke for sure -- is rescued by good writing.
The show, conceived by Joyce Gordon and director/producer Heinar Piller, contains some clunkers. A hearing-impaired drill sergeant appears twice too often, and an old-age home sketch overstays its welcome.
But these are quibbles. The show's aiming for a 905 area code audience. It should get it. But with occasional bits of brilliance and the chance to see performers like Judy Marshak, Denise Fergusson and Gary Krawford successfully rage against the dying of the spotlight, it deserves a larger audience, too.