Rina Pelletier and Rob Burton rehearse a scene from the Central Alberta Theatre production of the Melville Boys. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

Review: Comedy rings truer than pathos in CAT’s The Melville Boys

The entertaining Norm Foster play takes a lighthearted look at the complexities of life

Laughs are a-plenty in Central Alberta Theatre’s The Melville Boys — a play about what happens when two brothers meet two sisters.

But this doesn’t meant the lighthearted Norm Foster vehicle, running at the Black Knight Inn dinner theatre is a romantic comedy, or has lightweight themes.

Foster throws the audience a curve ball late in the game, following up the yuks with rather sobering discussions about life, death and responsibility.

While this could have made the play seem disjointed, this CAT production hangs together and manages to be quite poignant at times — thanks to the great timing and convincing acting of the four-person cast, and also deft direction by Michael Sutherland, who sets the right tone in his first directing effort.

‘Remember when things were the way they used to be?’

This question is on the mind of feckless younger brother Owen Melville (Rob Burton), who arrives at a family cabin for a fishing weekend with his more serious-minded bro, Lee.

While the older sibling, played as a long-suffering Mr. Nice Guy by Jim Claggett, is willing to put up with Owen’s adolescent antics, he isn’t in the mood for much reminiscing.

Lee grows increasingly frustrated as Owen insists on clowning around to avoid serious discussions about Lee’s medical condition — or what it will mean for their future.

But hanging onto the past isn’t just Owen’s problem. Mary, the elder of two sisters the Melvilles meet at the lake, played by Carla Falk, is also unwilling to forge ahead into the scary unknown. She prefers clinging to days-gone-by, even though they are less than rosy.

Her bubbly party-girl sister, Loretta, (Rina Pelletier) is the opposite. She is all about the future — a time when she imagines her acting career will finally take off beyond the two car commercials she’s filmed.

When the two pairs of siblings spend an evening together, it becomes apparent there’s no road back to ‘the way things used to be,’ or any guarantees in life. The four realize the only way forward is to embrace change, good or bad.

With a script touching on everything from sibling rivalry to the challenge of living up to one’s potential, you’d think The Melville Boys digs deep — but this is Foster, not Ibsen. The funnier parts of the script ring truer than the more serious ones.

The play is entertaining, regardless, due to its talented cast, and is worth checking out. The Melville Boys runs to March 18.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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