Clockwise from the left

Clockwise from the left

Quirky CAT plays sometimes hilarious

The Angel of Death is a tart-tongued paper-pusher in the play The Death of Me, while little voices in people’s heads take on a life of their own in the comedy My Narrator. Central Alberta Theatre restarted its dinner theatres at the Quality Inn North Hill on Thursday with two surrealist one-act plays by Canada’s go-to playwright, Norm Foster.

The Angel of Death is a tart-tongued paper-pusher in the play The Death of Me, while little voices in people’s heads take on a life of their own in the comedy My Narrator.

Central Alberta Theatre restarted its dinner theatres at the Quality Inn North Hill on Thursday with two surrealist one-act plays by Canada’s go-to playwright, Norm Foster.

The result is a quirky, sometimes uneven but occasionally hilarious evening of entertainment, under the direction of Debra O’Brien.

The first play, My Narrator, was the stronger of the two comedies during Tuesday’s dress rehearsal. The plot is about two young people who are testing the waters to see if they have a shot at romance.

Considering that artist Lacy is fed up with men, she’s not initially interested in socially awkward, eager-beaver salesman Miles.

Lacy, played with eye-rolling impatience by Jessica Summers, responds negatively to Miles’ repeat offers to help her buy a shirt, but later wavers when he invites her to dinner.

Lacy’s “inner narrator” (played by Cynthia Edwards) sensibly tries to steer her away from sad-sack Miles, but starving artists have to eat. Therefore Lacy ignores her narrator and agrees to go out with the misfit, played by Ian Sheppard, to get a free meal.

During their first date, Miles manages to come across as desperate, boorish and cheap (he takes Lacy to a divey restaurant because he has a two-for-one coupon) — until he also retains an inner narrator (Michael Sutherland) to guide him.

Given their penchant for self-sabotage, neither Lacy nor Miles are always interested in following the prudent advice their narrators give them. This proves especially alarming when their inner voices fall in love with each other and suddenly find a vested interest in keeping Lacy and Miles together.

Two veteran CAT actors, Edwards and Sutherland, performed with two relative newbies, Summers and Sheppard, in this fantasy play, and all four worked well together. Although Edwards needs to watch her sing-song delivery and some of the actors’ exchanges could be tightened up, the short scenes zipped along nicely and there was even a bit of a twist ending.

Debra O’Brien generally did a good job of mounting the two comedies on the spacious new stage set up in a banquet room at the Quality Inn. The actors moved their own props and minimalist set pieces between the well-paced scenes, and this worked efficiently for both plays.

The Death of Me started out promisingly, buoyed by great performances by Erna Soderberg, as the hilariously matter-of-fact Angel of Death, and Josh Earl as John, the hapless, confused young man who died unexpectedly from an aortic aneurysm.

But the play quickly lost steam after John is given a brief reprise at life in order to tie up some loose ends on Earth.

He is sent to talk to the woman who jilted him at the altar some four years previously. And his ex-fiancée, Cassie, played by Debra’s stepdaughter Kira O’Brien, turns out to be a very, very odd woman indeed. I’m not sure if Foster meant for the audience to find the character mentally unbalanced, but it seems clear that John dodged a bullet when he was dumped before the ceremony.

The problem is Cassie’s portrayal is too intense and disturbing to be funny. And much the same can be said for the doctor, played by CAT veteran and Debra’s husband, Dennis O’Brien. His uncaring, holiday-planning, luxury-car-buying physician could probably have gained something from a more breezy depiction. But the character, as written, is too much of a stereotype to offer us much to laugh at anyway — and this dragged the play down.

Still, Foster serves up a satisfying ending.

Another bonus is Earl’s terrific portrayal of John, who is reminiscent of Jesse from TV’s Breaking Bad in giving viewers some humanity to hang on to amid all the craziness.

My Narrator and The Death of Me continue until Nov. 29.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Image from Facebook)
Central Alberta Soroptimists celebrate International Women’s Day

Soroptimist International of Central Alberta will host its first virtual International Women’s… Continue reading

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

Olds College logo
Olds College to host free, online agriculture celebration next month

Olds College will host a free live-streamed agriculture event next month. The… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services Logo
AHS upgrading online immunization booking tool

Alberta Health Services’ online booking tool for COVID-19 immunizations will be temporarily… Continue reading

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

The Dawe family home in the Michener Hill subdivision in Red Deer. This house was designed and built by Robert G. Dawe, a local engineer, in 1911 and has remained in the family ever since. (Contributed photo)
Michael Dawe: 65 years of Red Deer history

As a major milestone birthday looms, I thought that it might be… Continue reading

Dallas Stars' Mark Pysyk (13) and Tampa Bay Lightning's Ondrej Palat (18) compete for control of a loose puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Vasilevskiy 3rd straight shutout as Lightning top Stars 2-0

Vasilevskiy 3rd straight shutout as Lightning top Stars 2-0

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) grabs a loose puck as Canadiens defenceman Ben Chiarot (8) and Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) battle for the rebound during first-period NHL hockey action Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Hab down Sens 3-1 to snap 5-game winless streak; Ducharme earns 1st NHL coaching win

Hab down Sens 3-1 to snap 5-game winless streak; Ducharme earns 1st NHL coaching win

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2021, file photo, Creighton coach Greg McDermott watches the team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler in Indianapolis. McDermott apologized publicly Tuesday, March 2, for using insensitive language in his postgame locker room talk with players and staff following a loss over the weekend. In a tweet, McDermott said he used a “terribly inappropriate analogy in making a point about staying together as a team despite the loss.” (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
Creighton coach McDermott apologizes for ‘plantation’ remark

Creighton coach McDermott apologizes for ‘plantation’ remark

WHL’s B.C. Division clubs cleared to play in Kamloops and Kelowna bubble environments

WHL’s B.C. Division clubs cleared to play in Kamloops and Kelowna bubble environments

World Rugby recommends postponing 2021 women’s World Cup to next year

World Rugby recommends postponing 2021 women’s World Cup to next year

Sean Burke speaks at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The Montreal Canadiens have made another change to their coaching staff, appointing Burke to take over as the director of goaltending. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Montreal Canadiens appoint Sean Burke as director of goaltending

Montreal Canadiens appoint Sean Burke as director of goaltending

The Toronto Arrows line up ahead of their Major League Rugby game in Toronto on April 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Toronto Arrows train under the bubble before heading south of the border

Toronto Arrows train under the bubble before heading south of the border

Most Read