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Dinners with Norm Foster

Two fantasy plays involving disembodied voices and an Angel of Death will open Central Alberta Theatre’s newly revived dinner theatre season in Red Deer.

Two fantasy plays involving disembodied voices and an Angel of Death will open Central Alberta Theatre’s newly revived dinner theatre season in Red Deer.

The one-acts My Narrator and The Death of Me by Canada’s favourite playwright, Norm Foster, will also mark the non-profit company’s 45th anniversary.

Lasting close to a half century is an amazing feat for any amateur theatre troupe, said Val Closson, the plays’ producer.

“I don’t think there’s anyone else in Canada who’s done that.”

CAT has rebounded after its financial difficulties a few years ago, and is resurrecting its popular dinner theatre format at the Quality Inn North Hill after a couple of years absence.

“It’s a new space and a brand-new stage and everything is spectacular. We look forward to working with them,” added Closson of Quality Inn staff.

The two short comedies open on Thursday, Nov. 6, and are being directed by veteran CAT member Debra O’Brien.

Both productions will not only involve a few long-time CAT members, but several younger community members who are injecting new ideas, energy and enthusiasm to the group. “It’s a breath of fresh air,” said Closson — and a boon to O’Brien, who is working with some innovative new actors and production people.

My Narrator is about what happens when struggling artist Lacy meets bumbling sales clerk Miles.

Both characters have narrators in their head (played by two other actors) who tell them what to do in matters of the heart.

These wisecracking inner voices provide a running commentary and occasional advice on this awkward romance. “They’re like paternal figures. Some of the things they say remind me of what your mother might tell you,” said O’Brien.

Of course, whether Lacy or Miles follow their suggestions is another matter.

The play sees the couple’s relationship through to the third date, when things begin to fall apart. The problem is that the characters’ inner voices have already fallen in love, so it’s in the narrators’ best interests to get things back on track, said O’Brien.

The second play, The Death of Me, also has four characters and a quirky plot: the protagonist John discovers he has died unexpectedly. In order to tidy up his affairs on Earth, he must bargain with the Angel of Death for a brief reprise of life.

To earn more hours of existence, the angel requires mousy John to “make waves” by confronting his formidable ex-fiance.

John discovers through his second chance at life that fixing mistakes from the past is difficult — especially when there are new mistakes to be made.

O’Brien, who’s working with two actors she knows very well on The Death of Me — her husband Dennis O’Brien and her stepdaughter Kira O’Brien — doesn’t want to let too much out of the bag because there’s a plot twist.

But she believes the audience will enjoy both plays that veer into surrealist territory, but still have something to say about real life.

The plays runs to Nov. 29. Dinner is at 6 p.m., the show is at 7:30 p.m. (Sunday brunch is at 12:30 p.m., show is at 2 p.m.) Tickets are $65 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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