“Tickle Your Funny Bone” with The Affections of May At Pigs Do Fly


Deborah Kondelik and Brian James McCormack in The Affections of May by Pigs Do Fly Productions

By Britin Haller

The Affections of May playing this month by Pigs Do Fly Productions is a wonderful evening out of the house. You’ll laugh, you’ll laugh some more, and if you’re a sentimental sort, you may even find yourself tearing up a time or two before the night is over.

According to Executive Producer Ellen Wacher, this is the second play by Norm Foster (known as Canada’s Neil Simon) to be showcased at Pigs Do Fly. It is also the most widely produced of Foster’s work. The Affections of May, first presented in 1990 when times were different, includes a few humorous #MeToo sexual situations, the dichotomy of which shouldn’t be possible, but somehow is.

Without divulging any significant plot points, The Affections of May is the story of May Henning, a happily married (or so she thinks) wife of almost three decades. A year or so ago, May and her husband Brian purchased a quaint bed and breakfast in a small town called Grogan’s Cove (think Mayberry RFD), and as the show opens, Brian is informing May he is leaving her, going back to the city, and taking his old job back. In other words, the city mouse tells the country mouse goodbye forever.

May is a nice, pretty, middle-aged woman who wants nothing more than to serve the needs of her guests, and her husband, and so when Brian takes off, she is understandably scared and confused. After all, she misses him terribly, is not good with finances, and the B&B needs a lot of handyman work done.

Deborah Kondelik and Ben Prayz in The Affections of May by Pigs Do Fly Productions

Enter local banker Hank Beavis with bad news/good news. Bad news is May’s husband took half their money before leaving town, but good news is Hank is here to dangle a potential loan in front of her like a carrot on a stick. Hank is interested in dating her, and thanks to the local gas station attendant who put gas in Brian’s car when he was heading out of town, everyone now knows May’s husband left her single and desperate.

Just when May is about to break down completely, an “angel” appears in the form of Quinn, the town drunk who happens to be pretty good with a hammer. He makes a deal with May to fix the place up in exchange for room and board. Since timing is everything, and May is in no place to say no, Quinn quickly moves in.

As May, Deborah Kondelik is put through a wringer of emotions and situations she appears to have little control over. It’s a good thing that her inn doesn’t have any guests at the moment because she clearly doesn’t have time for them. Maybe she should learn to just not answer the door.

Kondelik pulled double and triple-duty coordinating the set dressing, props, and the actors’s costumes. Special mention to whomever garnered the Crown Royal bag to hold the Scrabble pieces, as those royal purple satchels were back then, and probably still are now, a popular staple in many households.

Brian James McCormack appears as Brian, the not-so-doting husband who leaves May in the lurch, but not before helping himself to the hearty breakfast she lovingly prepared for him. There is nothing redeeming about Brian who seems like the kind of cold obnoxious jerk who would leave the toilet seat up and not bother flushing. He hates the small-town vibe where everyone talks about the weather, and “People say hi to you everywhere you go.” He even puts ketchup on eggs. McCormack plays his part so villainously he received a few boos during the curtain call. High praise indeed.

Deborah Kondelik and William Mahone in The Affections of May by Pigs Do Fly Productions

The Affections of May is about the affections of May, yes, but it is as well the story of perpetual adversaries Hank and Quinn, whose competition goes all the way back to high school. As Quinn, the down-on-his-luck boozer with a heart of gold, Ben Prayz has the best lines and delivers them well. His frustration as he alternates between showing May kindness, and Hank disdain, is believable.

William Mahone plays Hank Beavis, the local banker and mama’s boy whose collection of coffee mugs and colorful bow ties are impressive. He’s completely unlikable, but despite his misdeeds, once we learn his backstory, Mahone manages to evoke sympathy, a tough combination to pull off. He’s also very funny, especially as the bunny rabbit whose carrot necklace dangles inappropriately.

Scene changes are minimal, but interesting, and kudos to Jennifer Hollander, who glides around on the darkish stage like a cat. Watching her is a joy. Who knew props could be so much fun? The bed and breakfast set by scenic designer Ardean Landhuis works. And Patrick S. Vida returns to the Pigs Do Fly Productions stage as the ever-present esoteric stage manager whose audience presence is both comforting and cool.

Under director Mariah Reed’s more than capable hands, there is no doubt The Affections of May will, as claimed by Michigan Live, “Tickle your funny bone and tug at your heartstrings.” Full disclosure, Mariah Reed occasionally writes reviews for the Florida Theater On Stage website.

The Affections of May isn’t Tolstoy, but it doesn’t need to be. It fulfills a niche, one where adults of all ages can enjoy it equally. Go and laugh, and maybe shed a tear or two.

Britin Haller is the Senior Editor for Charade Media. Her latest novel is Dumpster Dying by Michelle Bennington, available where books are sold. Find Britin across social media and at Charadebooks.com.

The Affections of May from Pigs Do Fly Productions plays through March 31 at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Drive, Ft. Lauderdale (two blocks north of Sunrise, east of the railroad tracks); 8 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Running time approx. 120 minutes with a 10-minute intermission. Tickets $45, or mention the code MAY for $6 off. Call 954-678-1496, or visit pigsdoflyproductions.com.  

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