The show now playing at the Drayton Festival Theatre has a theme that’s certain to hit close to home for many people in the area.
On until July 16, Buying The Farm tells the story of Magnus Bjornson (Terry Barna) an aging bachelor farmer who is facing mounting debts, health concerns, and suburban neighbourhoods intruding on his land from every direction. As Magnus is contemplating retirement, real estate agent Brad Deacon (Alex Furber) tries to convince him to sell his farm. Magnus’ great-niece, Esme Van Fossen (Kelly Van der Burg), has other ideas, however.
Where realtor Brad is keen for the sale, Esme is resolved to keep the family farm afloat. It’s a not-uncommon theme.
“It becomes a battle about saving green spaces or selling farms for urban sprawl to build housing developments, like all communities are facing these days. It’s a comedy about the forces in the family that want to save the farm and not sell, and then this young guy trying to convince them that they should sell – a worthwhile thing to do to clear their debts and make room for people to build houses. So very heartfelt, very funny,” explained director Lee MacDougall.
“It’s been done in a few different theaters across Canada. This is the first time in the Drayton Festival world. We’re doing our version of it with local actors. And I think it’ll be very entertaining for the people that are interested in the situation of trying to save a farm or sell it for big profit,” he said.
All three cast members bring a wealth of experience, MacDougall said.
“It’s a great cast. Terry Barna has done many shows for Drayton entertainment and a lot of other theatre. He’s a very good actor and very funny. Alex Furber has done a couple of shows for Drayton and a lot of big shows. He was in Warhorse in Toronto. He’s done some TV as well. And then Kelly Van der Burg, she’s done theatre and also some TV as well. Murdoch Mysteries and different things that she’s done on TV,” he explained.
“They understand the audience in the Drayton area, and the kind of theatre that they like, and it makes it much easier to direct the show for me, using experienced actors because they come in knowing what they’re doing and knowing how to how to put a play together.”
MacDougall himself brings a wealth of experience including being in the original Broadway company of Come from Away. He has also performed at the Stratford and Shaw festivals and in many productions with Drayton Entertainment. He has also directed shows for the Blyth Festival, Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton and at Stage West Calgary.
Alex Mustakas, artistic director of Drayton Entertainment, had high praise for the production, promoted as “love letter to farming.”
“Buying The Farm is relatable, heartfelt, and above all else, very funny. The production is packed with so many wonderful moments of levity, balanced by flashes of insight and tenderness which speak to the plight of the independent farmer. It’s the perfect summer comedy.”
While the play covers some serious topics there is also a light-heartedness to it, MacDougall said.
“It’s a very funny play, and very heartfelt and very entertaining.
Performances of the production will be offered at various capacity limits and with differing vaccination requirements; some performances are full capacity with no vaccination requirement, some performances are limited capacity with no vaccination requirement, and some performances are limited capacity with vaccinations required. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 519-638-5555 or toll free at 1-855-drayton (372-9866), or online.