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Ivor Johnson comes to life on TNW stage

A lone, slightly awkward young man sits under a bridge, where he hears a woman with a baby above him, stalling on the bridge. While crying herself, the mother tries to console her child.

A lone, slightly awkward young man sits under a bridge, where he hears a woman with a baby above him, stalling on the bridge.

While crying herself, the mother tries to console her child. For a moment, it's unclear whether the woman is desperate enough to jump, and whether the young man will go in after her.

An eerie setting to start an intriguing tale set in early 1950s Nova Scotia, in Theatre Northwest's newest production to hit the stage, Ivor Johnson's Neighbours.

The play walks you through the lives of three neighbours along the 'Snake,' - through the troubles of both young and old romances, through the introduction of a new neighbour and through the complication of family dynamics. All of which seem to be mediated by wise, neighbourly Ivor Johnson.

Based on the novel by Bruce Graham, who was in the audience opening night, the production was elegantly composed. The characters are not only believable, but will resonate with the audience, as each question who they are and what they must do to bring about change to their lives.

William Vickers plays Duddy, a stubborn working-man with a love of hubcaps, and had the theatre doubled over in laughter throughout the play with astounding talent in physical comedy and shocking dialogue.

Duddy is challenged by the new neighbour Claudia, to remove not only his hubcap collection, but a tractor and a half-car from the newly-purchased lot, as well as his own yard. His response is dramatic, and real. Duddy built a fence he described as "The Great Wall of Hubcaps" around his property.

One of the great story lines throughout the production was the dynamic between twin brothers Edger and Ledger.

Edger is an awkward young man who has lived in the shadow of his brother, and is also in love with Pearl, the neighbouring girl who has just had a child but refuses to name the father. Just as Edger finds his courage and Pearl opens her heart, a new girl moves in with hips that has the attention of every man living on Snake Road.

The entire cast produced a lively, realistic production that made the audience unwilling to leave their seats. Indeed, without a program in hand the audience would have no way to know that both brothers were played by Gil Garratt, who flawlessly changed between characters throughout the two and a half hour play.

It's a production that will beg you if not to return for a second showing, then to find the novel in order to better sink your teeth into the wonderful story.