A Clean Brush Review – A Clever Whodunit

Michael Kerr and Mandy Fason in A CLEAN BRUSH - Photo by Eric Keitel
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Author Norman Foster is considered Canada’s most popular and produced playwright. With more than 50 plays to his credit; he has a special knack for poking gentle fun at everyday folks living average lives – until something unexpected happens. The Playwrights Guild of Canada awarded him lifetime membership in 2016. The same year, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada; and in 2018, he was awarded the key to the city of St. Catharines, Ontario. He has frequently been compared to Neil Simon, our home-grown comedic star. Theatre 40 is proud to present the world premiere of A CLEAN BRUSH, Norm’s newest comedy and the sixth produced by Theatre 40.

Set in Los Angeles in 2022, A CLEAN BRUSH is a comedy-mystery about, of all things, murder. Two house painters, Dick Stern (James Lemire) and Mello Boggs (Michael Kerr) have been hired to spruce up a basement apartment owned by Zoe Caldwell (Mandy Fason), a widow with a history. It seems that her unfortunate husband recently died. Apparently, he was inordinately clumsy, falling into a fireplace poker and suffering fatal head injuries. Since his passing, the widow plans to turn the room into a rental. To the two painters, this is just another job – until Lois Cunningham (Susan Priver), a nosy neighbor, suggests to the men that the accident might not be. To complicate matters, Mello already met the beautiful widow – who just may have offed her hubbie – and there was a powerful attraction.

Directed by comedian and award-winning television director Howard Storm, A CLEAN BRUSH is a clever and funny play with subtle Canadian/British wit designed to elicit chuckles rather than guffaws. The ensemble cast do a winning job of portraying these everyday characters with charm and gentle humor. Everybody is likeable and appealing – even the killer in this whodunit cum comedy!

Mandy Fason and Michael Kerr – Photo by Eric Keitel

Jeff G. Rack’s set is plain and simple, a bare undecorated room with almost no furniture which is ready for a coat of paint. Given the absence of furniture to sit on, most of the play’s lines are delivered by standing actors – lending a somewhat static effect to the action. As always, Michele Young’s costumes were apt and appropriate. Derrick McDaniel’s lighting and Nick Foran’s sound are faultless. Overall, A CLEAN BRUSH is entertaining, enjoyable, and clever. For a pleasant and amiable evening, a visit to Theatre 40 is in order.

James Lemire and Mandy Fason – Photo by Eric Keitel

A CLEAN BRUSH runs through October 23, 2022, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Theatre 40 performs in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Tickets are $35. For information and reservations, call 310-364-0535 or go online.


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