This production is scheduled May 3-19, 2024.

With its latest gift to the community, By the Sea Productions welcomes two new faces (and one very familiar, very welcome one) to its stage for five performances May 3-19.

Newcomers Bonnie DeChant and Tina Leonard join veteran-of-many-local-stages Tom Ammon in Lunenburg, a Norm Foster-penned pastiche featuring a trio of characters who are long enough in the tooth that surprises in affairs of the heart shouldn’t be, well, surprises. And therein lies the tale . . .

DeChant and Leonard play Iris and Natalie, Americans and best friends, who arrive in Lunenburg, a quaint and colorful harbor town, to claim a house that Iris’ recently deceased husband left her—the first of many surprises she must face considering she didn’t even know he owned property in Nova Scotia until after his death.

Immediately they encounter a second surprise in the form of next-door neighbor Charlie (Ammon in fine form) who we quickly come to understand has many layers, and perhaps many secrets, of his own.

While Leonard and Ammon carry most of the comedy in the play—trying to support the widow in her grief while finding the funny in falling for each other—DeChant infuses her character with an irony and a knowing understanding of her best friend’s foibles that keep us engaged ‘til the satisfying conclusion of the play.

While Foster’s nonstop dialogue in Lunenburg is funny and convincing, with many a bon mot, it is also the focus of this two-hour (including intermission) play. It requires a trio of good actors who with their words can keep the audience engaged in their evolving relationships, and that this production does that reflects not only their skill, but the able direction of Lisa Woske, one of the Morro Bay company’s go-to directors for light comedies à la Neil Simon.

The comfy and charming set, credited to Woske, Janice Peters and Rhonda Crowfoot, and lights and sound by Samvel Gottlieb (never ever asleep at the switch) artfully aid in welcoming the Americans to what Charlie refers to as the “Lunenburg way of life.” You’ll be welcome there, too.

:: Charlotte Alexander