The hugely successful Wingfield plays (beginning with Letters from Wingfield Farm and numbering four or five sequels) tell the story of a big city stock broker, Walt Wingfield, who decides to chuck the fast lane and buy a small town farm — relating his adventures (and misadventures) in letters written to the local paper. Written by Dan Needles, they’re all one-man shows starring Rod Beattie.
Very funny comedies, yet with an underlining drama. Sure, they aren’t much more than sitcoms — but smart, high quality sitcoms, not relying on cheap jokes for the most part. The town’s folk aren’t bumpkins, and there’s a good natured charm to Walt’s clumsy efforts to adjust to farm life (an underlining theme is that Walt is often more nostalgic for — and protective of — the rural life than his neighbours who are born to it!)
A strength of the plays is Beattie’s multi-faceted performance, evoking a cast of characters who are consistent (yet also capable of growth) throughout the plays. Many of the plays have been recorded as audio productions and, in that format, his performance can be even more remarkable, as you wouldn’t realize it’s not a full cast acting together (well, except when he does the women characters).
Funny, charming…and definitely a modern classic of Canadiana.