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Prohibition-era gangsters appear in up-coming Central Alberta Theatre thriller

‘The Lonely Diner’ opens Feb. 3 at Festival Hall in Red Deer
Central Alberta Theatre director Craig Scott is helming the upcoming thriller ‘The Lonely Diner,’ by Beverley Cooper. It opens at Festival Hall on Feb. 3. (Contributed photo).

In a quiet little diner close to the U.S. border, a bored farm wife contemplates a more glamorous life.

‘Be careful what you wish for’ is the theme of Central Alberta Theatre’s noir-ish thriller, The Lonely Diner, by Beverley Cooper.

The Canadian play that opens on Feb. 3 at Red Deer’s Festival Hall, takes place in 1928, during the Prohibition era when liquor sales were outlawed in the U.S.

Lucy, along with husband, Ron and daughter Sylvia, are running a small cafe on their farm on the Ontario side of the border to supplement a meagre agricultural income.

As a side hustle, the family also occasionally runs a few bottles of alcohol over the U.S. border.

Business at the diner is so slow that Lucy has time to mull over her dissatisfaction with life. She yearns for more excitement and glitz.

The play’s director, Craig Scott said, “Lucy is kind of self-absorbed. She dreams of bigger plans and living in bigger cities. She doesn’t think her husband loves her because he buys her brooms and aprons instead of taking her for a night on the town at a jazz club, which is what she really wants...”

Then, a pair of well-heeled American gangsters make an after-hours visit to the diner and Lucy’s humdrum life suddenly becomes infinitely more thrilling — and dangerous.

One of the hoods, ‘Snorky,’ intersperses his violent escapades with talk of culture and opera, and so is particularly unpredictable, said Scott.

As the stakes grow higher for her family, Lucy begins questioning her fascination with glamour and celebrity and starts thinking a quiet life might not be so bad after all.

The veteran CAT director explained he was drawn to this play for its comedic and darker sensibilities. There’s also a familial link — two of Scott’s grandfathers ran booze across the U.S. border near Windsor, Ont. in real life.

“There’s strong language and violence… but the biggest challenge we faced is we have to somehow make pasta and tomato sauce on stage,” added Scott. It meant tracking down an old-style stove, as well as a 1920s icebox, because “they didn’t have fridges back then…”

The cast of five in the production consists of a few regular CAT members and a few newcomers. Scott said they had fun with this script, which contains some comic, as well as serious, moments. “I tend to like the darker side, a play with some meat on it,” he admitted.

Scott hopes the audience will appreciate being transported back to a different time. “And I hope they enjoy the rollercoaster ride.”

The show runs Feb. 3 to 18 with various options, from theatre-only shows to dinner theatre.

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Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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