Polly (Liz Bennett, left) is indignant as her husband’s boss, Edith (Cynthia Edwards), pressures Henry (Bob Greig) to retire from his professor’s job in this rehearsal scene from CAT’s Cliffhanger. (Submitted photo).

Theatre troupe delivers thrills and laughs in Cliffhanger

Black Knight Dinner Theatre comedy/mystery opens Jan. 18

When philosophy instructor Henry Lowenthal encounters an ethical problem — being forced into retirement by his new boss — he opts for a Socratic solution.

That is, he uses a bust of Socrates to club his boss over the head.

Central Alberta Theatre is starting 2019 by promising dinner-theatre audiences some thrills and spills — of laughter — with Cliffhanger. The comedy-mystery by James Yaffe will run from Jan. 18 to Feb. 9 at the Black Knight Inn Dinner Theatre.

Director Michael Sutherland believes January can benefit from some hilarity, and he’s happy to deliver it with his five-person cast.

Bob Greig will play Henry, a college instructor who once made the mistake of not hiring his former student, Edith Wilshire.

When Edith (Cynthia Edwards) eventually lands a position as his boss, she makes it clear that “things are now going to be done her way,” said Sutherland.

Edith’s first order of business is getting rid of Henry — but the college instructor can’t conceive of retiring from a job he loves.

Within the first few minutes of the play, audience members will see a murder seemingly committed on stage.

But just as Henry and his wife Polly (Liz Bennett) look like they might get away with it, in stumbles Henry’s student, Melvin McMullen, to mess things up.

Melvin is at his philosophy instructor’s home, trying to get his mark changed, “so his father won’t kill him,” said Sutherland.

When Lowenthal refuses to budge, Melvin decides to go over his head and find Wilshire.

Sutherland said the plot soon becomes convoluted, raising all sorts of questions, including whether there was a murder committed in the first place. And if so, whodunnit?

The CAT veteran is having a ton of fun rehearsing this production with an experienced cast, including Bennett, who usually performs with the Innisfail Town Theatre.

Sutherland believes audiences will enjoy the witty dialogue: “Some lines still make us laugh,” he said, even though the cast has heard them time and again. He compares Yaffe’s “intellectual comedy” to an episode of Frasier, with pompous characters getting their comeuppance.

“It’s well written, and the story’s being told by people who are good at it. Overall, it’s a good show.”

Tickets are available from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.


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