Red Deer Players’ bittersweet comedy both funny and emotionally affecting

Indoor/outdoor review

“I’m not happy. I don’t want to make this work,” says an aggrieved Samantha. “I feel like I’ve settled!”

“Sometimes I feel you want something from me that I can’t give!” responds a frustrated Shuman.

A lot of soul-searching relationship talk transpires in Indoor/Outdoor, the Red Deer Players production that opened Friday night on the Centennial Stage at the Scott Block.

But before you imagine divorce lawyers being called up on speed dial, you should know that Samantha is a dissatisfied house cat, and Shuman is her hapless human.

Regardless of the peculiar intensity of their pet/owner relationship, this well-written play by Kenny Finkle can be interpreted on a whole other level — and is meant to be.

Samantha, played with flawless feline languor by Roxzane Armstrong, is a disaffected female who thinks she’s found the love of her life — until she realizes her guy doesn’t “get” her.

Shuman, a well-meaning, but uptight web designer, portrayed by Dan Vasquez, freaks out when Samantha brings him a dead mouse. He can’t understand his pet’s complex feelings about things.

For instance, Samantha begins to wonder why, if her world revolves around Shuman, doesn’t Shuman’s world revolve around her?

She eventually begins questioning whether she’s missing out on life by playing it too safe, cooped up inside the house, instead of exploring the outdoor world with an adventurous alley cat named Oscar (played by Arick Yasinski).

While much angst is expressed through drawn out discussions, the humour largely comes in the form of cat therapist Mathilda, played with excellent comic timing by Emily Cupples.

Armed with the exuberant, can-do spirit of many misguided do-gooders, Mathilda thinks she can bring both sides to the table and work out this sticky situation between Samantha and Shuman.

What happens is funny and emotionally affecting. Yes, this is one of those laugh-cry productions, so bring tissues.

Insightful and touching dialogue about the meaning of love and the definition of home and family separates Indoor/Outdoor from more gimmicky plays about pets and people.

That’s not to say that this production couldn’t have been shorter — it could, and probably should have been.

But Indoor/Outdoor, directed by Ashley Mercia, is carried by solid performances. Although Armstrong should diverge occasionally from her laid-back demeanor — even cats hiss — her emotional finale is remarkably heart-felt.

Finkle not only understands the differences between men and women, he gets what really matters to all of us in the end. His bittersweet comedy will give audience members some purr-fect insight into the meaning of life. (Yes, I went there.)

The play runs to Oct. 29. Tickets are available from reddeerplayers.com.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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