Laughter is the best medicine

By Evelyn C. McDonald
Arts & Culture Reporter
March 20, 2019 11:03 a.m.

The Cast of Looking for Norm Foster includes Edie Blankenberg as Val, Kip Brown as Andy, Samantha Hilliker as Nina, and Chris Twiggs as Matt. Photo courtesy of Steve Leimberg/

Sometimes the nicest thing that can happen in a day is to have a good laugh. Last Saturday I was treated to a month’s worth of laughs. The occasion was Amelia Community Theatre’s production of “Looking,” a play by Canadian playwright Norm Foster.

The story is simple enough. Four people are looking for romance, love, sex or some combination of the afore-mentioned. Two of them arrange a blind date and bring along their best friends. Naturally the two blind daters aren’t that impressed with each other but the two friends connect right away. And dramatically in a marvelous bit of theatre.

The story follows the attempts of all four to manage their relationships. The actors were well cast for their individual roles and in their match-ups with each other. Edie Blankenberg and Samantha Hilliker were the blind dater and her friend, Val and Nina. Kip Brown and Chris Twiggs were the other blind dater and his friend, Andy and Matt.

Under Sabrina Rockwell’s direction and Terry Bean’s stage managing, the play moved through its paces, fast and funny. The set consisted of reproductions from classified ads sections in the newspapers. Some of these ads were prominent in the play.

Pop tunes reinforced the play’s dialogue. It was interesting that the only song that had the audience singing along was the old Doris Day hit, “Que sera, sera.” And the song that ended the play, “At Last,” really brought a laugh.

To say that the play is funny is putting it mildly. Here’s a way to gauge the humor. I couldn’t remember most of the one-liners because they kept coming. And yet, the dialogue was at once familiar and plausible. At one time or another, we’ve probably all said or thought those lines in exasperation over interrelationships and the dating scene.

It is a hallmark of the play that the effects didn’t stop there. A few days later, I found myself thinking about all of the themes the play addressed. It’s not only about looking for love. The play had a lot to say about friendships, both good and not so good. Our close friends’ judgments can color our reactions. The play addressed our expectations about relationships and our view of ourselves.

I commend ACT on the selection of plays in Studio 209. They have explored all sorts of corners of what it is to be human. Some explorations have been poignant; others laugh out loud funny. It’s been a good combination, well-acted and well-directed.

Evelyn McDonald moved to Fernandina Beach from the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. in 2006. Evelyn is vice-chair on the Amelia Center for Lifelong Learning and is on the Dean’s Council for the Carpenter Library at the UNF. Ms. McDonald has MS in Technology Management from the University of Maryland’s University College and a BA in Spanish from the University of Michigan.

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One Response to Laughter is the best medicine

  1. Larry Myers says:

    Saw “Looking” last Friday nite. Studio 209 was sold out…audience was great, actors were even greater…Sooo many laughs. Norm Foster captured a moment in life that is sooo funny.

    A SUPER night on de Island

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