Two older couples head off into the Alberta wilderness with a secret in Central Alberta Theatre’s season-opening farce, The Love (Row) Boat.
Neither seniors nor the Rocky Mountain House locale crop up very often in stage plays, so Red Deer playwright and director Albert Azzara decided to give it a whirl and incorporate both into the plot of his physical comedy set in central Alberta.
The dinner theatre production about two couples in their 60s, who have been friends since high school, opens with a world premiere on Friday, Nov. 1, at the Black Knight Inn and runs to Nov. 16.
It starts with spouses Ed and Lenore Green arriving at a cabin west of Rocky Mountain House to meet up with Fred and Vivian Vance (fans of the TV show I Love Lucy will get the allusion to Lucy’s sidekick).
The Greens have something shocking to share with the Vances, said Azzara.
But the four can barely get their bearings in the woods when an escaped convict with three first names (Richard Allan Tyler) turns up to steal Ed’s car and make off with the cabin’s fuel supply.
Finding themselves in a predicament, the friends hatch a plan to cross Forbidden Lake to a boathouse to load up on more gasoline. But can they trust the “love boat” to get them there?
Azzara said the watercraft is so named because it was once used to facilitate a mid-lake version of the “mile high club.”
Add to this mayhem a dapper police officer who is on the trail of the escaped prisoner, and a tipsy “cougar” neighbour, who’s on the prowl for husband number six, and the silliness really begins.
Azzara said he was inspired by the slapstick humour of the Marx Brothers to create this farce with plenty of pratfalls, double entendres, puns — and even a broom fight.
He threw in references to Rocky Mountain House, Nordegg and Red Deer because a lot of Canadian plays are set in the East, and Azzara thought it would be welcome to feature a relatable Alberta setting.
He focused on seniors because he feels they get scant attention in popular entertainment.
“Older people have sex lives, love lives, friendships … they are no different than younger people — only they have to take things slower and easier,” said the retired teacher, with a chuckle.
And, yes, his script is sprinkled with jokes about aging, too.
The Love (Row) Boat is the first of a trilogy of plays Azzara has written about the Greens and Vances.
Azzara — who has written about 60 scripts in total, including pantomimes performed by Red Deer Players — hopes to stage the other two plays in the trilogy if this one leaves the audience in hysterics.
It’s certainly cutting up the six actors — Azzara said their biggest challenge has been keeping a straight face.
For more information, please contact the Black Knight Ticket Centre.