It’s hard not to burst out laughing during Wingfield’s Folly, and inside the Chemainus Theatre Festival, it’s a sound you hear often, as veteran actor and comedian Rod Beattie performs as Walt Wingfield and a host of other colourful characters.
Beattie uses a number of different voices — including a woman’s — as he plays different characters throughout the one-man play about a farmer looking for a way to recover from two years of profit-less farming. The result is a laugh-out-loud comedy that is also moving, thoughtful and sweet.
Throughout the production, Beattie is a newspaper editor, a curmudgeonly old farmer, the farmer’s love interest, a grocery store owner and an assortment of neighbours and consorts, and it’s pretty amazing to watch Beattie switch effortlessly from one character to the next — often in the same scene and in the same conversation.
A former stockbroker, Wingfield has bought a farm in a small town in Ontario. After two years of making no money, he feels something is wrong with the system.
Wingfield creates a new currency for himself and his neighbours living on the Seventh Line — the Walt. He develops a formal system of bartering among themselves, and instead of using money, the farmers on the Seventh Line start exchanging Walts for cream, eggs, labour and other goods and services.
Each scene in this funny, heartwarming play is one of Wingfield’s letters to the editor. We follow Wingfield as he struggles with turkeys dying on his farm, contemplates buying a tractor, as he comes up with a scheme to create a new economic system and falls in love.
Beattie’s acting is great — between all the voices, his facial expressions and his use of silence to to convey his mood, he keeps you laughing throughout the production.
Directed by Doug Beattie, Wingfield’s Folly is the third in a series of seven plays written by Dan Needles.
Wingfield’s Folly is a bonus production at the Chemainus Theatre Festival, and it runs until Nov. 17. Tickets and show times are available online and by calling 1-800-565-7738.