Covenant College’s production of Mr. Pim Passes By premiered this past weekend on Friday, February 17, 2017. Starring Covenant College acting veteran Andrew Lupinek as George Marden and Julie Pretorius as Olivia Marden in her first major role. The show also featured Jonathan Austin as Brian Strange. New to the stage and in their first starring roles were Marie Bowen as Dina Marden and Will Payne as Mr. Pim.
Mr. Pim Passes By is a play written by the acclaimed author of Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne. Ironically, the comedy has little to do with the happenings and goings on of the nervous and absent minded Mr. Pim but rather the goings on of the Marden household.
The acting was done well for the most part and the comedic and affectionate chemistry that radiated off of Pretorius and Lupinek’s characters were a delight to watch. The way they delivered the little harmless jabs back and forth came across not as unloving but as a couple who are comfortable with one another and each other’s communication style.
The couple that plays opposite them Brian Strange and Dina, are well cast and it showed in their performance. Their chemistry lies in the translation of the young, dreamy – almost silly – couple in love. Their performance would have benefited from a little bit more comfort with one another – and perhaps in the case of Dina’s character – more comfort with the stage.
The contrast between the two couples is shown well in the writing and performing. However, the younger couple missed that little bit of extra energy and chemistry that the older couple showed off.
The character work done by Mr. Pim was delightfully quirky. It is almost impossible to hate his character despite his absent minded foolishness.
The great aunt was a difficult character to dissect through her performance. According to information brought to us through the dialogue, she ought to be around sixty-five. However, her posture and mannerisms do not communicate her age or her implied high social status. The maid, despite her cottony accent, comes across more stately than Aunty.
There were times when the English accents got carried away with our actors, especially in scenes of great conflict where a lot of talking was going on, but it hardly distracted from the delightful humor of the show.
The stage direction of the actors was superb. The way that the stage and set were used to the full effect and volume gave a sense of inclusiveness to the show.
The set design was very beautiful, natural, and homey. There was an issue with the sitting room. As an audience member, I could not tell what was going on in the poorly lit and confusingly enclosed room. Consequently, I felt cut off from the action, certain information, and jokes. The door that Mr. Pim generally enters and exits through has a big black cinder block wall in the background; over which no one bothered to paint or hang a background. This created an unnecessary break in the suspension of disbelief for the audience.
Overall this was a great show with lots of charm and characters that you can’t help but love. The show has one more running weekend this upcoming Friday, Feb. 24, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2:30 p.m.