Erna Soderberg likes when comedy is generously peppered with reality.
That’s why she’s directing Making God Laugh, by Chicago playwright Sean Grennan, for Central Alberta Theatre.
“It’s funny, but it’s pretty truthful in a lot of ways,” said Soderberg.
The play that opens as a dinner theatre on Friday, Nov. 18, at the Black Knight Inn in Red Deer, is about family members interacting at various holiday get-togethers.
Audience members become fly-on-the-wall voyeurs of a plot that stretches across three decades. The action starts in 1980 when Ruth and Bill invite their young adult children back home for Thanksgiving dinner.
Soderberg feels everyone will relate to some of their wince-inducing family moments. For instance, Ruth takes an appraising eye to daughter, Maddie, and asks with zero self-awareness and all good intentions: “What’s with your outfit? … Do you need some money?”
Soderberg can still remember her own mother asking, “Do you like your hair that way?” while she was a teenager. Now that she’s a mom herself, Soberberg can appreciate that parents aren’t always aware of how their comments sound to their off-spring.
The play’s title springs from the adage: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Ruth and Bill’s three children have started mapping out their lives in the first scenes.
Maddie aims to become a successful actor — to the dismay of her practical parents.
Her favoured brother Tom becomes Father Tom, after entering the Catholic priesthood.
Other son, Richard is a former high-school football player, who sees himself as a keen investor — but audience members can tell his instincts are all wrong. “At one point, (Richard) says ‘Google? Invest in Google? Better go with Enron,’” said Soderberg, who loves the script’s snappy humour.
She believes the plot will show life’s surprises, as plans change or go off-course.
Soderberg has enjoyed working with the five cast members, including CAT veterans Carla Falk as Ruth, and Perry Mill as Richard. She hopes audience members will leave feeling like every family is perfectly imperfect.
“I think they will be moved by how (everyone) pulls together in the end…. even if they bicker, family members are there for each other.”
The play runs to Dec. 17. Tickets are available from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.