Review: Rope’s End a sincere, heartwarming tale

I left the theatre here last week with a feeling of remorse.
Not about what I’d seen, but because this was my first trip to the Opera House on Broadway.  A resident of Orangeville, I had always travelled out of town seeking great live theatre, shamefully overlooking this gem of a venue that’s right at my doorstep.
I guess it was fitting that my lesson was similar to that learned by Toby Boone, the main character in Theatre Orangeville’s latest production, Rope’s End – it’s never too late to connect with a lost love.
Toby, masterfully portrayed by George Masswohl, is a middle aged, down-on-his-luck film critic who wonders if life is worth living. But then he comes across a memento of his first love, Marisa, and wonders what might have been.
Desperate for a reason to go on, yet full of romantic hope, Toby summons up the courage to visit Marisa and reveal his true feelings.
It’s a bold step for Toby, who lives vicariously through films and has a very confined social comfort zone. And though it doesn’t play out quite the way Toby – or the audience – expects, the result is a sincere and heart-warming story.
Billed as both a drama and comedy by playwright Douglas Bowie, Rope’s End is exactly that. Bowie has created two lovable characters who interact with original comedic charm, but he also successfully manages to resolve difficult personal conflicts, such as fantasy versus reality, life versus death, and my personal favourite, being honest at the expense of someone else’s feelings versus being deceitful to make them happy.
I always cringe when I hear about two-player productions, but Rope’s End overcomes most of the problems inherent in these types of plays with seemingly little effort, thanks to the performances of the real life husband and wife team of Masswohl and Sharron Matthews.
A regular star of stage productions as well as major films such as Cinderella Man and Hairspray, Matthews does an outstanding job making the audience empathize with Marisa as much as it does with Toby; a difficult task considering the heartfelt and humorously self-deprecating monologue provided for Toby at the beginning of the play.
Matthews and Masswohl are magnificent together in Rope’s End, which my companion at the show aptly called a “unique and cute” story.
It’s an entertaining and inspirational tale that will be enjoyed by hopeless romantics and skeptical curmudgeons alike.