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One-act play offers fertile ground for comedy


Newly widowed Alice Ridgeway isn’t thinking about eradicating that kind of weed as she primps her rural property for the local Communities in Bloom contest.

Yet a marijuana grow operation is exactly what Alice discovers in an old barn on her deceased husband’s farm.

The one-act comedy Bloom, which opens on Thursday as part of Central Alberta Theatre’s Prairie Winter Theatre presentation, shows that life can take some unlikely turns after the death of a spouse.

It’s a good thing that Alice has her good friend and fellow widow, Olive, to lean on.

For as aghast as Alice is to discover the secret stash of cannabis, she’s also thinking “those plants could sure use some fertilizer!” added the play’s director Deb O’Brien, with a chuckle.

Something about this play by Leeann Minogue about friendship, parenthood and loyalty that runs at the Nickle Studio at the Memorial Centre, spoke to the 15-year CAT veteran — or at least tickled her funny bone. “There aren’t that many plays about women in their 50s” — never mind light-hearted ones, added O’Brien, who first saw Bloom staged at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival in 2010.

“I thought it’s very funny. You do laugh throughout.”

She noted Saskatchewan playwright Minogue’s “Prairie” humour also went over well with local audiences when CAT staged her full-length play Dry Streak a couple of years ago. “I like to do Canadian plays and I think Red Deer audiences understand the Prairie feel.”

The concise nature of one-acts appeals to O’Brien as well. Like short stories, they are often punchier because they have to unfold a plot line and develop characters quickly.

“You have a shorter time to draw in the audience, so everything is intensified.”

The 60-minute comedy Bloom has been staged at Ottawa’s Little Theatre One-Act Play Festival, where it won an honourable mention, and will also be mounted next month at the Calgary Regional One-Act Theatre Festival at the Pumphouse Theatre.

Minogue, who has relatives in the Red Deer area, plans to catch one of CAT’s community theatre performances — which is very exciting for O’Brien and her two-person cast of Debby Allan and Erna Soderberg.

“It’s kind of an honour to have her,” said O’Brien, who works at the Red Deer Public Library when she isn’t directing or acting with CAT.

The other one-act play that will be part of Prairie Winter Theatre is Prelude to Thirty-five, by American playwright Seth Kramer.

The 17-minute romantic comedy, directed by Red Deer College student Nicole Leal, starts off with some tension.

It seems Jay’s girlfriend, Rae, would rather endure nine hours at a train station in a snowstorm with no coat than spend one more minute at Jay’s parents’ house.

Although he botches the job of running after Rae, and ends up with a bloody nose, Jay still figures there’s scope to pop the question.

For Rae’s reaction, you’ll have to catch the Prairie Winter Theatre presentation.

It runs from 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 28, March 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 at the Nickle Studio, upstairs at the Memorial Centre. Tickets are $28.70 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre. Refreshments and snacks can be purchased from the Break-A-Leg Bar, down the hall from the studio.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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