Review: Foster’s Doris & Ivy in the Home kicks off Lighthouse’s 45th season (Port Dover Maple Leaf)

“…The audience is taken on a roller coaster ride of laugh out loud one-liners to dips into sadness through the reflections on lives well lived…”

May 29, 2024

Port Dover Maple Leaf

By Donna McMillan

There is no better way to kick off the Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s 45th Season Anniversary than with a fun play by Canada’s premier and most prolific playwright Norm Foster. Following on the heels of Jonas and Barry in the Home (2015) that took audiences from hilarity to sadness on daily life in a retirement home comes a totally different story with a comedic female perspective of “Doris and Ivy in the Home.” Quickly, the audience is taken on a roller coaster ride of laugh out loud one- liners to dips into sadness through the reflections on lives well lived and the unique perplexities and angsts of the lead characters.  And no, sex doesn’t end when one enters a retirement home and chooses “living in a controlled environment.”  While walkers may be lined up three abreast in a hallway, others in the home were “hitting the sheets” or being ogled in their back garden, behind the compost heap, lovemaking.

Doris and Ivy in the Home on stage at Lighthouse Theatre stars from left, Ian Deakin as Arthur, Melanie Janzen as Doris, and Brigitte Robinson as Ivy.

As Norm shared “Doris and Ivy in the Home is about two women who hail from different parts of the world…. These two women are as different as the day is long, but as often happens, life throws us a curve, and we befriend people we never expected to get close to.”

Doris Mooney, a retired Drumheller prison guard, has just moved into Paradise Village retirement home in Canmore, Alberta. She suffers from a fatty liver disease.  Ivy Hoffbauer, married and divorced three times, is well known as a winning Austrian skier whose career on the slopes ended in a humiliating and injurious crash.   Arthur Beech, a retired Dean of Arts at the University of Calgary, is a real ladies’ man who is not letting a cancer diagnosis slow him down.  

No wilting violet, Doris crassly and brazenly shoots her mouth off questioning Ivy’s marriage and career failures while admitting she stayed in a loveless marriage. Her witty quips included keeping mum about the “D” word, referencing a “dry water pistol” and much more.  A popular veteran at LFT, Melanie Janzen is indeed hilarious performing as the brash Doris.   She has performed 7 seasons at the Stratford Festival and 5 seasons with The Shaw Festival.   Great to see her back in Port Dover.

Brigitte Robinson, acting in numerous past Mirvish and Shaw Festival productions, made a welcome debut on the LFT stage as Ivy. She was the perfect graceful, empathetic foil to Doris and her run of the mouth.  

Ian Deakin, who has performed in a number of Shakespearean plays at Stratford Festival as well as Netflix and FXX offerings, is also on the LFT stage for the first time. He was an authentic charmer in the role of Arthur.    

LFT Associate Director Jane Spence directed Doris and Ivy in the Home, inviting the audience “into the lives of three people navigating the trials and tribulations of life in a retirement home.”

Once again William Chesney created a beautiful outdoor setting, complete with gazebo, for the Doris and Ivy in the home set. Kevin Fraser was Lighting Designer; Alex Amini Costume Designer; Laura Grandfield Stage Manager and Ben Tuck Assistant Stage Manager.    

Three members of the Paris Port Dover Pipe Band heralded the 45th season opening with a brief marching performance, which marked their 30th year to bring their pipes to the theatre, Derek Ritschel, Artistic Director shared in his welcome to the audience.

To catch another Norm Foster stage hit, running in Port Dover from May 22 to June 8, contact the theatre at their Main and Market Box Office, visit or call 519 583 2221.