Saturday, May 05, 2007

Chronicle Herald article: Jones’s Uncle Val fills audience with joy of storytelling, laughter

(from the Halifax Chronicle Herald, Saturday May 5, 2007)

Andy Jones is so brilliant and heartwarming, you wish you could hold his words in your fingers like a string of worry beads.

The St. John’s, N.L., comic actor and writer kicked off the 14th annual On the Waterfront Theatre Festival to a standing ovation Friday night.

"Geez, he’s something else," one audience member said as he was leaving the packed Alderney Landing Theatre in Dartmouth.

Jones’s show is a wonderful comic meditation on Newfoundland, daily life and everyone’s fear of mortality.

An Evening with Uncle Val, derived from a popular character Jones first created in 1978, interweaves a beloved, aged, outport exile grumbling about life with his grandkids in suburban St. John’s with Andy the actor telling the story of himself as a young townie falling in love with the old rural Newfoundland storytellers.

He and a raft of others sought to study Newfoundland culture, reshape it and share their passion for it with fellow Newfoundlanders and with Canada. An Evening with Uncle Val does exactly that.

At the heart of the show is the beloved character of the widower Uncle Val writing to his friend Jack about his daughter Margaret, his odious son-in-law Bernard, his rhyming grandchildren Kimmy and Jimmy and the poodles, Tiffy and Tuffy.

Val is upset by the newfangled ways in St. John’s and by cable TV, which introduces American soap operas and unhappy Americans into the living room.

"I know why they’re always unhappy," he tells Jack.
"Their liquor cabinets are always full. They got nothing to strive for."

On a set of piled-up boxes, a doll’s house representing Margaret’s home, a desk and a kitchen table for Val’s favourite tea, Jones roams around as both Uncle Val and himself in complete control of the audience, yet seemingly offhand as he addresses the audience directly and ad libs beautifully.

The audience is enveloped in the joy of storytelling, of comedy and of being part of theatre about theatre and about human nature.

Highlights include poodle slippers that move of their own accord when a caped Uncle Val fantasizes he is the household king about to witness the drunken Bernard’s undoing, and Andy the actor’s voice-perfect imitations of Joey Smallwood and J.F.K., who accompany him on the road.

Do yourself a favour and go see An Evening with Uncle Val, which runs roughly 90 minutes and is on tonight at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Alderney Landing Theatre. For tickets, call Ticket Pro at 1-888-311-9090 or go online to


Letters from Uncle Val, the audio CD, written and performed by Andy Jones is available from