Craig Scott was feeling conflicted after reading the script for the latest Central Alberta Theatre play Wrong Turn at Lungfish.
“My brain was telling me ‘I can’t direct this, I don’t have time,’” he recalled. “But my heart was telling me ‘I have to make time, because someone has to do this.’”
Since he felt the play deserves to be seen, Scott stepped up to helm it.
The Red Deer salesman and veteran CAT actor then spent three months trying to line up the right community actors for the four-person cast — in part because older male thespians are always in short supply in the region.
Now Wrong Turn at Lungfish is set to open on Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Nickle Studio, upstairs at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre.
The dramedy, whose title references when evolution went off the rails, is written by Garry Marshall (of Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley fame) and Lowell Ganz.
It starred George C. Scott, Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne) and Tony Danza when it premiered on stage in 1993.
The plot is about what happens when a dying, blind curmudgeon named Peter Ravenswaal (played by Innisfail actor Robbin Edgar) meets Anita Meredino, a street-smart 20-something woman who volunteers to read to him in the hospital. (She will be portrayed by CAT veteran Tara Rorke.)
Scott believes the theme boils down to the very same thing he experienced — a battle between brain and heart.
“The way I see it, Peter symbolizes the brain and (Anita) symbolizes the heart and soul of a human being. He thinks logic and science rule the world, and she thinks faith and hope rule the world — and their relationship starts out in animosity and fear,” said Scott.
Peter, a retired professor in his 60s, begins by insulting Anita because he’s rude to everyone.
She thinks it’s funny, because, as it turns out, Anita has learned to live with abuse.
Over the course of the play, the two discuss and/or debate a variety of big questions, from ‘Does God exist?’ to ‘Why are we here on this Earth?’ Through these exchanges, Scott believes the audience begins to understand why Peter is bitter and why Anita has come to accept her lot in life.
He said both characters will influence each other and shift towards a common ground. “Peter lets his heart start to take over … and Anita realizes maybe she shouldn’t accept some things, and thinks, ‘maybe I should stand up for myself.’”
Wrong Turn at Lungfish was described as a poignant play and, Scott said, “I think that’s the perfect word.”
He believes its story line, also involving Peter’s nurse and Anita’s boyfriend, goes a little deeper than many of the farces and comedies that CAT has staged.
“I’m a drama kind of guy … I want the audience to be on a roller-coaster of emotions — happy at times and sad at times.”
Scott hopes viewers will ask themselves some of the same questions plaguing Peter and Anita. “Do I have any regrets in life? How can I change before it’s too late?”
Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. shows (2 p.m. matinees Feb. 22 and March 1) are $32.70 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.