“Just because something ends, that don’t mean it wasn’t a great success,” was an important line, backed by the emotional appeal of the play. It ties in with the fact that even though the show is now over, doesn’t mean we forget how magnificent and well-rehearsed it was.
I guess it’s not a spoiler anymore, but everyone dies. The play is a heart wrenching tale of love, despair, and comic relief. It solely revolves around the Fail sisters: Gertrude, Jenny June, and Eleanor (Nelly for short.) Following the death of their beloved parents Henry and Marietta Fail (played by the spectacular Kalem Barr and Priyaali Kanti), the sisters take over “Fail Clockworks Est 1900”. On a fateful evening, Mortimer Mortimer strolls into the shop on the corner of Lumber & Love, and into their lives. The intuitive, aspiring actor Jeremy Ratt brilliantly portrays Mortimer, who, even the dog agreed, was devilishly handsome in this adaptation. Following suit, Mortimer just wants love, and intends to find it someday. In meeting the fiery eldest Gertrude-not-Gerty (played by the marvellous Reagen Knight), he requests her to engrave “will you marry me?” in his grandfather’s pocket watch. Briefly after their introduction, the most beautiful girl he has ever seen enters the shop, none other than the adorable Nelly Fail, (played stunningly by Alexa Rood). She evokes a happiness in everyone from the second she enters the spotlight. A love immediately blossoms between the two, which is sealed with a shocking, passionate kiss; and soon, they will have become engaged. In an ironic twist of fate, the bird Mortimer lets escape alights on a bust, and in so doing becomes the tipping point of the statue that crushes poor sweet Nelly, and hence crushing Mortimer’s first love. and so capturing the audience. Even I was tearing up, if we’re being honest. What should have been a day of celebration became a day of mourning. Act One was sincere, filled with joyful displays of affection accompanied by the whimsical voices of Kylie Bikow, Olivia Solano in sweet renditions of songs such as “Let Me Call you Sweetheart”, “How ya gonna keep them down on the farm”, and “I don’t need anyone”. It felt like we needed this play.
Act Two was positively enthralling. The relationship formed between Mortimer and Jenny June (played stupendously by Bella Graziotto) was laid out so innocently and purely. When Jenny June succumbed to the water while swimming across the Chicago River everyone in the theatre simultaneously held their breaths. All along we knew the girls would die, but nevertheless it was captivating and melancholy. From John N’s (played by the talented Aidan Oorebeek) declaration of loving Jenny June all along, to Gertrude professing her love to Mortimer, the Second Act was a rollercoaster of emotions, and I feel so saddened that we didn’t get to see love come to fruition between Gertrude and Mortimer.
The cast and crew spent so long perfecting every little detail and making the play the best it could be, exceeding expectations. Every aspect was flawless, the dancing and scenery were exquisite and the add-on humor was much needed and appreciated. I cannot stress enough how impressed I–along with anyone else who saw it–was with the entire production.