Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused. Who originally said that I cannot tell you, but I can tell you that there is more than a grain of truth to that statement.
Those of us who call Prince Edward Island home most certainly possess the ability to laugh at ourselves. We laugh at the kinds of things we do sometimes when we don’t think things through. We laugh at the kinds of things we say to each other that we didn’t really intend to say but said anyway because our mouths were working faster than our brains.
Sometimes we even laugh about the way others see us because we know they’re wrong. And that explains, in part, why for the past several years we have piled into our cars at least one night each summer – more if relatives come to visit – and made the short road trip to Hunter River to see homegrown comedian Patrick Ledwell and singer-songwriter Mark Haines mount the latest edition of The Island Summer Review at the Harmony House Theatre.
Few are more adept than Ledwell and Haines at celebrating the lighter side of life on P.E.I. They proved that again just last week when they unveiled the latest edition of The Island Summer Review. They treated their opening night audience, a number of whom were clearly return customers from previous seasons, to a highly entertaining evening of stories and songs deeply rooted in the red soil of Canada’s smallest province, engaging them from the get-go to the last hurrah.
There’s plenty of humour, if that’s what you’re looking for.
The highlights and low lights from what passes for news in Island newspapers and on television is by itself worth the price of admission, from the debate over whether P.E.I.’s official animal should be the fox or the dairy cow to the woebegone tale of the Island man who spent hours waiting for Charlottetown’s first government pot store to open only to be turned away because his driver’s licence, the required ID, had expired.
Ledwell’s account of a Kenny Rogers concert Rogers clearly did not want to be at is priceless. But out of that story came a golden opportunity for Haines and Ledwell to engage their audience in a rousing version of a Rogers’ classic “The Gambler.”
Still on the lighter side there’s a quiz that had some audience members in stitches. I’m not going to play spoiler here though and give you the answers. Find out for yourself.
While there’s a great deal of humour in this year’s review there are also more poignant moments, like Ledwell’s account of the passing of his father and his final words to his children.
Ledwell also speaks to the realization of just how important that place we call home can be to our emotional and mental well-being and as well to the joy he and his wife shared when they adopted a child. Separating those stories were several choice bits of music from Haines, from a first-class fiddle set to a new ditty about Islanders and the fact we don’t take crap.
Haines and Ledwell have become quite a little combo musically with Haines playing guitar and fiddle and Ledwell taking on guitar, bass and horns. There has been great chemistry between these two since day one and over the past several years they have only gotten better together.
The Island Summer Review plays Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights at 8 pm, until August 30th.