Of The Fields Lately – Soulpepper at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts

July 2, 2009

By Kathy Morgan

Last night I went to see Soulpepper’s production of “Of the Fields Lately”, playing at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, and from the opening scene I was absolutely hooked.

Every once in a while, as theatre patrons, we are fortuitous enough to see a perfect combination of actor and role. I firmly believe that Kenneth Walsh was born to play Jacob Mercer. As a character full of temper and mood swings, it’s a tough part to maintain audience sympathy. However, Walsh is perfect, and I don’t use that word lightly. His charm and sincerity breaks our hearts as he attempts to navigate the world around him.

Both Eric Peterson and Diane D’Aquila were also wonderful. In fact, I would say, and my friend who came with me to the show would agree, that seeing these three veterans of the Canadian theatre was the highlight of the show. In particular, Eric Peterson broke my heart. Several times.

There’s something so wonderful about watching actors that are so confident in their craft that this world fades away and the only one that matters is the one on display in front of you. It made for a wonderful night.

However, I really wasn’t impressed with the fourth cast member, Jeff Lillico. I don’t know whether it was a choice made by the actor or the director, Ted Dykstra, but he just seemed like an angry young man who was constantly either moping or yelling. His character was really hard to like, which was jarring as an audience member because the rest of the cast were so in synch.

I have to say that Soulpepper is brilliant at creating the world of the play. Consistently, the design, in this case by Lorenzo Savoini (set) and Victoria Wallace (costuming), is so specific and the attention to detail is so meticulous. It’s one of the things I think they do best as a company. This production was no exception.

The show opens with Mary ironing the family laundry with her can of aerosol spray starch and an iron that was steaming. They are little details, but they demonstrate a commitment to the world and, I think, to telling the story.

This was a lovely production, and I recommend it confidently. It’s heartfelt and entertaining, and a wonderful evening out.

– “Of the Fields Lately” plays at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (55 Mill St.)
– The show runs from June 25 to July 30 at 8pm.
– Tickets range from $20-$68, including student and “Under 30” ticket programs, and can be purchased at the box office, by telephone at (416)866 8666, or online at www.soulpepper.ca