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Wine and Roses Stumbles Through Cougar town

Carol (Rosie Murray) and Jonathan (Rosie Murray) in Wine and Roses

The concept of the cougar remains one of those delectable topics that society likes to chew on. Ideas of predatory older women using much younger men to sate their needs, once such a faux pas, are now all over popular culture. So in choosing to deal with this issue in his play Wine and Roses, writer and director David Tulloch picked a topic that well handled, could reap great dramatic or even comedic rewards. Unfortunately, Wine and Roses handles it badly, very badly.

Wine and Roses is the story of an older woman, Carol and her relationship with an 18 year-old boy,  Jonathan allowing it to rest close to the border between cougardom and barely legal. Carol and Jonathan have a tumultuouCarol (Rosie Murray) and Edgar (Carl Davis)s on again, not quite off again relationship which seems to leave both of them equally confused.

Wine and Roses isn’t a lamentable play, because it has a few positives, but it is lamentably done.  There are several weaknesses in the script, however, the plot could be sufficiently interesting to get beyond that. Additionally, Tulloch, armed himself with a reasonably strong cast, which includes Rosie Murray (Carol), Carl Davis (Edgar) and Keisha Patterson (Elicia). The play also features Rodney Campbell, Fabian Barracks and Raquel McClean. Unfortunately, even the stronger members of the cast are no match for either Tulloch’s poor directorial choices, or the often stilted dialogue which further hobbles the play.  

The major problem with the play, is that with the exception of the sexier scenes in the play (and it does peddle its fair share of flesh) Tulloch tends to aim for the easy laugh rather than mining the dramatic potential.  Worse yet, the humour is sophomoric. Additionally, the characters are generally contradictory, seeming to suffer from a mild case of split personality disorder or some other neurosis. The worst of this is Jonathan’s mother (McClean), who is a badly drawn stereotype of the over-zealous Christian. The caricature is worsened by McClean’s massive case of over-acting which beats any possible realistic portrayal out of the character. 
Keisha Patterson
Fortunately, in this wilderness of schizophrenically drawn and directed characters, Keisha Patterson was a delightful boon. Her character, Elicia, has the kind of stalker-passion that makes you expect her to jump out of a closet one day, dagger in hand and declare, I can’t live without you and I won’t let you live without me. Patterson plays this to the hilt, and her large doe-like eyes make her even more perfectly suited for the role.

Wine and Roses, produced by Probe Master Entertainment, was first staged in 2005 and it has potential, but most of this is lost. The best thing about the production is that it is often so bad, it’s hilarious and therefore enjoyable in spite of itself as it stumbles and fumbles through cougar-town.