Tag Archives: collette radau

Cast of Sonder, postcard style

Sonder and the Fringe

The Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is my favourite festival.   And counting down to the Fringe is like counting down to Christmas.  When I was a child, I used to ask my parents, Don’t you wish Christmas was tomorrow? Mum would sigh and Dad would grumble in their grownup ways saying that they didn’t wish Christmas was tomorrow because they weren’t ready.  I would explain that if Christmas was tomorrow they would be ready!  They didn’t buy it.

Anyway, every year as soon as Folkfest is over I start getting excited about the Fringe.  I already have my program and some show tickets, and my volunteering schedule for the beer tent.  I drove by the grounds last night and saw the barricades on some of the roads.  I’m clicking Maybe on all the Facebook events and trying to figure out how many I can see.  I’m looking forward to the parade, the food stands (especially Rustixx pizza), the out-of-town visitors, the excitement … but at the same time I’m feeling like one of those grown-ups who has a to-do list that has to happen first.

One of the things on my personal to-do list is to get caught up writing about other performances I’ve seen, so I can start the season fresh.  That will appear here in the next few days.

The other things are about getting everything ready for the new show that I’m producing, Sonder, with our company The ? Collective (you can pronounce that however you want, but we usually say “the question mark collective” – our twitter handle is @theqmcollective).  A friend and I put together a lottery entry last fall and were lucky enough to get selected to perform in a Fringe lottery venue, King Edward School.  That’s Venue 5, the elementary school, the low white building closer to the Fringe grounds, as opposed to the Academy which is the older brick building across the street.  My friend, Jake Tkaczyk, took on the roles of director and creation facilitator, gathering a small group of Red Deer College students to explore themes of interconnectedness and meaningful moments in a collaborative creation process.  The title Sonder came from the tumblr blog Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, in which the writer, John Koenig, coins many words for interesting concepts – in this case the realization that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as one’s own.  As the work slowly took shape, Collette Radau contributed as dramaturg, Alex Boldt responded with original music and soundscapes, and all of us told and listened to many stories.

What we’ve come up with uses the techniques of performance art, movement, recitation, and narrative scenes real and surreal to show a series of moments in different people’s lives, from the everyday to the magical, funny and poignant and sometimes disturbing.   We’re excited about showing our creation to the Fringe community, and we’re also excited about experiencing the Fringe from the inside.   I’m the only one who’s been involved with a show in the past (as stage manager for WaMo Productions’ God on God 2013, 3 stars in the VUE and the Journal).  Some of the company members will be attending their first Edmonton Fringe, and I’m almost as excited about showing them the festival that made me fall in love with theatre in the first place.

But as I said at the beginning, I’ve got a to-do list between me and opening night (Thursday Aug 14th at 10 pm by the way).  The rest of our company arrives in town today, and our tech rehearsal is this afternoon.  We have posters to hang, handbills to hand out, programs to print, buttons to sell, and a parade to entertain you in (Thursday Aug 14th, 7:30 pm, Fringe grounds). We have a blog, a website, a Facebook event and page, a twitter account, and an indiegogo campaign (running til the 21st).

And we have tickets at the box offices for all our performances, $11 adult, $9 student/senior.  We’d love to see you there!

  • Thurs Aug 14th, 10 pm (opening)
  • Sun Aug 17th, 9 pm
  • Mon Aug 18th, 12:15 pm
  • Wed Aug 20th, 11:30 pm
  • Thurs Aug 21st, 4:00 pm
  • Sat Aug 23rd, 6:45 pm (closing)
Sonder cast rehearses family scene.  Erin Pettifor as the mother comforts her children (Julia Van Dam, Evan Macleod).

Sonder cast rehearses family scene. Erin Pettifor as the mother comforts her children (Julia Van Dam, Evan Macleod).

Sonder cast creates funeral vignette.  Evan Macleod as Doug the deceased.  Mourners left to right: Julia Van Dam, Emily Cupples, Tyler Johnson, Brittany Martyshuk.

Sonder cast creates funeral vignette. Evan Macleod as Doug the deceased. Mourners left to right: Julia Van Dam, Emily Cupples, Tyler Johnson, Brittany Martyshuk.

Skin Deep: self-created, site-specific, scenes, stories, and sculptures

The last performance assignment on the curriculum for the 2014 graduating class in Theatre Performance and Creation at Red Deer College was to create and perform some site-specific work off campus in some space not normally used for theatre.

The class chose the Red Deer Lodge hotel, and took advantage of several different spaces around the central courtyard of the hotel, starting in the lobby and leading the audience around.  There was a general theme of self-discovery, exposure, and the choices of how much to reveal, but the various scenes and vignettes used a variety of techniques and tactics, giving the performance some flavour of a showcase of skills developed.

Continuity was maintained by having Julia Van Dam as a guide.  Although she had a challenging trickster demeanour, it was reassuring in an apparently unstructured situation to see her red-gloved figure glide up and point us to where we should go next.  After some bits in the lobby of the hotel, the audience members were led to explore various glimpses around the courtyard, fights and dances and conversations, and then directed to a murder investigation in a hotel conference room.  That was good to have early on the program, while the audience was feeling uncomfortable with what was expected, because the characters (Wayne DeAtley, Victoria Day, Chase Cownden, JP Lord, Bret Jacobs, and Julia Van Dam) were easy to identify and the narrative arc straightforward.

After that, things got weirder, but we got more comfortable with it.  Some of the scenes took place in hotel bedrooms – Jen Suter and Jessica Bordley did a powerful invocation of tormented teenage girls in a scene that I thought was probably called “So Fucking Angry”, and Brittany Martyshuk and Jake Tkaczyk had an interesting concept of speaking together in the solitude of separate rooms with the help of crackling baby-monitors.  Some happened on a balcony over our heads.   Another one seated the audience in a conference room while dancers reflected on a curtain formed Rorschach-blot-like shapes in response to a patient’s (Taylor Pfeifer) answers to a nurse (Constance Isaacs).  Dustin Funk and Tyler Johnson were two homeless people in conflict.  Richard Leurer and Megan Einarson had a particularly disturbing scene in the hotel pool.  Some of the narrative in the performance was in rhyme, and some of it was recited in chorus.  There was quite a lot of expressive movement, possibly a bit too much, and there was some stage fighting, some dance, and some good tableaux.  There was a movement scene with, I think,  Jessica Bordley, Tyler Johnson, Chase Cownden, JP Lord, and Richard Leurer, narrated in rhyme by Julia Van Dam about friendship and romance and shifting loyalties that I liked a lot.

I was impressed that all the traffic-directing was done in a very organic way and that none of the performers fell out of character at all even when the audience probably wasn’t doing what they wanted us to.  I thought that the performance might have been a bit too long or too repetitive, but in general I enjoyed it a lot.  I liked the sense of wandering around with more going on than I was able to see.  Skin Deep continues Wednesday and Thursday this week, with information available at this Facebook page. 

Solo Flight for RDC students

One of the assignments for the graduating students in Red Deer College’s Theatre Performance and Creation program is to develop and perform a solo piece, about 10 minutes long, acting as multiple characters.  The solos were performed this week, some on Thursday and some on Friday.  I attended the Friday show, and afterwards I wished I’d been able to see the other nine performances as well.  The Friday show was MCed by class member Richard Leurer, and other classmates who were not performing managed the tech and front of house duties, creating a friendly relaxed environment in the black-box space of Studio A, where I had seen first seen them perform a first-semester Showcase in December 2012.

The performers all acted as three or more different characters, signaling the shifts clearly to the audiences by changing position, posture, voice, and/or accent.  Most of the female performers played both male and female characters, with the most entertaining and convincing male character being Victoria Day’s crotch-scratching homeless man.  Bret Jacobs’ family story included a kind and entertaining Granny who aged along with the young protagonist.  Both age shifts were communicated effectively and with affection.  Jen Suter, Jessie Muir, Bret Jacobs, and Jake Tkaczyk all incorporated small child characters in their stories.

Jen Suter’s story of an overworked restaurant server, her unappealing co-worker, and her demanding patrons was a good choice to start the show because it was easy to understand and very funny.  Several of the creators/performers ventured away from real-world settings to include elements of adventure-science fiction (J-P Lord’s mismatched crew on a voyage across the galaxy), disturbing encounters with metaphysical powers (Collette Radau’s visits from the fear of death, Jessie Muir’s angelic demon), or an imagined dystopic future (Taylor Pfeifer’s world of addiction to bottled emotions).

Victoria Day and Constance Isaac both told powerful contemporary-world stories of teenagers struggling to cope with difficult family situations.  In Jake Tkaczyk’s piece, a seven-year-old protagonist encounters a couple of differently dangerous adults in a playground, and escapes disaster only because of the hostility between the malefactors, both of whom warn him about the other.

The program finished with Collette Radau’s work about encounters with a personified Fear of Death, but more generally about the experience of moving into an uncertain future.  It made me cry.

The show poster, reproduced above, was designed by Miranda Radau.

The Red Deer College Theatre Performance and Creation class of 2014 has one more set of public performances.  Skin Deep is a site-specific ensemble piece created by the performers.  It will be performed April 20-24 at a site in Red Deer, and more information is at this Facebook page.

Alice Through the Looking Glass, and what I found there

The audience is different at a matinee of a show advertised as suitable for families.  There are a lot more black velvet dresses and pink snow boots.  I overheard a discussion beforehand about how live theatre is different from movies, with an adult explaining that no, it’s not all going to be on that little screen, and I overheard a discussion afterwards with other audience members saying that they didn’t want to go home yet, they wanted to stay and talk to the characters.  It was also clear to me that some young members of the audience were restless during the long poems and songs, and they didn’t conceal that quite as effectively as I like to think that I do nowadays.  All that being said, I did not find any of the audience members badly behaved or disruptive of my enjoyment of the show.  And I did enjoy it.

Lewis Carroll’s story Alice Through the Looking Glass, written in 1873, was adapted for the stage by Jim DeFelice in 1974, with music written by Larry Reese.  The production currently playing at the Red Deer College Arts Centre Mainstage is directed by faculty member Lynda Adams, and the seven performers are all final year students in Theatre Performance and Creation.

Julia Van Dam played the eponymous Alice convincingly as an imaginative Victorian-era child of “seven years and six months”, daydreaming of imaginary worlds and then landing in an unexpected one where things don’t go the way she dreamed.  Her body language, more expressive than an adult’s but still restricted by custom and crinoline, conveys delight, responsibility, frustration, and relief, and her singing voice is up to the material while not seeming inappropriately adult.

The other six cast members all played multiple characters.  The story was simplified a little bit from the original, but they left in all the important characters – TweedleDum and TweedleDee (Jennifer Suter and Jessie Muir), Humpty Dumpty (Dustin Funk), and some of the chess pieces.  As in the original, and in the playing-card symbolism of Alice In Wonderland, it was interesting to see the chess pieces develop distinctive character traits – the Red King (Dustin Funk) is sleepy to the point of narcolepsy, the Red Queen (Jessica Bordley) is a stern parent/teacher figure hectoring Alice about manners and behaviour while the White Queen (Collette Radau) is endearingly gentle and bewildered, and the White King (Jake Tkaczyk) is forgetful and clumsy.  Except for the Red Queen and to some extent Humpty Dumpty, all the characters treat Alice as an adult with agency, and she readily takes on responsibilities of taking care of herself and of them.  This was satisfying to me as a child reader and was still so as an adult playgoer watching the story through her eyes.

I noticed other ways that my old reactions to the story coloured my responses to the play.  I started out scared of the Red Queen, but I think actually that came from being scared of the playing-card characters in Alice in Wonderland.  I thought the Walrus and Carpenter song was both too long and too disturbing, because that is how I felt about it when I first read it.  In this stage production, I really enjoyed the oysters-as-puppets though.  And I still felt impatient during Alice’s encounter with the White Knight (Jen Suter) in the penultimate square.  As in the book, it felt like an irrelevant delay in order to introduce yet another eccentric character and recite yet another poem.  Jen Suter plays the White Knight with a sort of cowboy accent, perhaps of a cowboy whose range extends from Montana to somewhere in the Old South, but her delivery of the repeated line about “it’s my oooown invention” was very funny, and I heard a lot of adult chuckles during that scene.  I loved the expressive movement and feathery menace of the Black Crow (Jessica Bordley) just before and just after intermission, as the White King flails around causing or harnessing a tornado with his queen’s long unmanageable shawl.

It’s not really a story with a conventional plot arc or a lot of continuity, just Alice’s goal of reaching the eighth row of the chessboard as a pawn so that she can become a queen.  One undercurrent of theme is about names and loss of identity, as several characters warn Alice about losing her name or challenge her to replace it.

In a pair of framing scenes at the beginning and end, Alice is a little girl in her own house interacting with her nurse (Collette Radau) and her cat Dinah (Jessie Muir, with amusingly-credible feline physicality).  The “real” world scenes are shown as silhouette shadows on a scrim, with black and white drawing showing a fireplace, mantelpiece mirror, and chessboard.  This created a magical contrast with the colourful three-dimensional Looking-Glass world, similar to the colour film effect in Wizard of Oz, although I did wonder whether it confused the family behind me, in which an adult had just explained that the live actors in the play weren’t going to be on the screen at all.  The initial scene also made very clever use of the optical trick of having one character farther from the light than the other, so that Alice standing up looked about the same height as her seated nurse.

Outside those scenes was a second framing, as the performance started with a single spotlight outside the curtain (and in fact, outside a “second frame” ornate-scrollwork
mirror-frame decoupaged with mirror-image text from the Jabberwock) illuminating a Storyteller (Jake Tkaczyk) in Victorian-period frock coat, top hat, and white gloves and still demeanour, who sings the Prelude song “Child of the pure unclouded brow”.  His well-trained mid-range voice would not be out of place in musical theatre and his changes in delivery for different parts of the song helped make sense of the rather abstract lyrical poetry.  After the ending scene with real-world Alice on the screen talking over the adventures with her cat, Tkaczyk begins to sing again in costume as the White King but with the Storyteller’s voice, and the curtain rises again on the Looking-Glass world as the other performers join in with the choral finale.  Again, this provides a pleasing symmetry while also covering the musical-theatre convention of an all-cast song leading to the curtain calls.

The chess-piece costumes were very clever, with wide padded stiff hoops at the rim of robes suspended from the performers’ shoulders.  Similar stiff hoops could be spotted at the bottom edges of the knights’ horses, at TweedleDum and TweedleDee’s trouser cuffs, and on various sleeve cuffs.  Alice’s costuming, pink white and black with ringlets and a big hairbow, suited the clear simple palette of the show, but drew attention with small patterns and details reminiscent of the little-girl fussiness of the Harajuku Girls (Gwen Stefani’s backup dancers).

The fantasy world’s set used a revolve painted with a chessboard grid, and a pile of different-height boxes consistent with the grid.  Various trees, flowers, and so on continue the theme of coloured squares.  As I had been spending time with a young nephew before the show I was immediately reminded of the video game Minecraft, but that may not have been intentional.  The momentary jarring sensation when I heard the phrase “grassy knoll” on the 50th anniversary of J.F. Kennedy’s death was certainly not intentional.  The backdrop included a whirling Fibonacci-sequence checkerboard cloud formation.  Four stage technicians, students in the Theatre Production program, (Michael Johnson, Jordan Kruithof, Astrid Olivares, Jesse Robbins) contributed visibly to the production, as hands appearing in tables to serve drinks, crew of the Fourth-Square Express train, and especially at discovering Humpty Dumpty after his fall.

In the early performances I saw, there was possibly a little bit of sound balancing inconsistency in the first choral number, “Through the Glass”, and a few places where a performer was not speaking clearly enough to be easily heard from the middle of the big auditorium.  But those are easy details which will likely be corrected before this week’s performances, running Tuesday through Saturday (Nov 26 through 30), with tickets available through Black Knight Ticket Centre as usual.

An audience member studies the set for Through the Looking Glass at intermission.

An audience member studies the set for Through the Looking Glass at intermission.

Another Comedy of Errors

There are lots of Shakespeare plays that I’ve never seen, studied, or read.  I’ve heard of people who make a point of saving one Shakespeare play so they have something to look forward to … but it’s usually Troilus and Cressida or Coriolanus, something after Shakespeare was on the way to jumping the shark.  Anyway, until this year, I hadn’t watched Comedy of Errors at all.  Or studied it, or even read it.  But this summer I enjoyed a production of Comedy of Errors in the tent at Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, and then I went to the rap adaptation Bomb-itty of Errors directed by Dave Horak at the Edmonton Fringe.  And then in October I attended a Comedy of Errors production done by Red Deer College Theatre Performance and Creation students and directed by Jeff Page.

The set visible before the play started hinted at a fantasy setting, with playful pastel triangles painted on a city backdrop and courtyard flooring.  Then a drumroll and change in the lightning were followed by solemn standard-bearers and then the solemn entrance of the Duke of Ephesus (Julia van Dam) followed by her frail and bedraggled prisoner, Aegeon (JP Lord).  After the long exposition necessary in the first scene, where Aegeon explains about his wife having been lost at sea with one twin son and one twin slave-companion and the Duke explains that although she feels pity for him, she won’t make an exception to the law banning Syracusians, the action speeds up.  Antipholus of Syracuse (Jake Tkaczyk) and Dromio of Syracuse (Jen Suter), the bewildered travellers, stumble into a cheerful busy marketplace, with bubbly 1960s-inspired pop music in the background.  The costumes too seem to evoke the playful early 1960s, with ice-cream colours, argyle vests, and minidresses.  Soon the play’s theme of mistaken identity becomes clear, as various locals confuse the visiting Antipholus and Dromio for their identical-twin namesakes who live in the town, and the local pair (Richard Leurer as Antipholus of Ephesus and Brittany Martyshuk as Dromio of Ephesus) appear alternately with very similar body language and costuming, making the mix-up credible.  Leurer and Tkaczyk have almost identical jaw-hanging confused expressions.  Adriana, the impatient wife of Antipholus of Ephesus who is waiting the midday meal for her absent husband, is played with irritation and then increasing worry that her husband’s unexplained behaviour might mean that he is unfaithful, by Victoria Day.  Adriana’s unmarried sister Luciana (Constance Isaac) has some amusing stage business with high heeled pumps that hurt her feet.  Other local characters complicating the plot include Angelo (Tyler Johnson) a pompous prosperous goldsmith with tailored Nehru jacket and walking stick, an unnamed courtesan (Megan Einarson) in gogo boots with some outrageously flirtatious audience interaction, the Duke’s overeager executioner (Wayne De Atley) and the soothsayer Doctor Pinch (Jessie Muir), an odd steampunk cross between a psychotherapist and a psychic.  The servant Luce, who horrifies Dromio of Syracuse when she mistakes him for her husband Dromio of Ephesus, is played by Bret Jacobs.  Casting Jacobs was an inspired choice for director Jeff Page, since he plays the bossy cook and affectionate wife with hilarious gusto, but also because Dromio of Syracuse’s speech about her being repulsive because she is fat and dark-skinned is both funnier and more acceptable to my modern ears when the character is played by a man.  Another aspect of Shakespeare’s tale that made me uncomfortable on reading and on viewing of the previous productions was the way that the Dromio characters are treated by the Antipholus characters who own them/employ them and were raised together with them, with physical beating as well as verbal abuse.  Again, a directorial choice in this production made that aspect a little more ridiculous and less disturbing, with most of the beating being done using rolled up newspapers.

The courtesan and her retinue performed an original musical number, Nothing but Love, by Edmonton musician Paul Morgan Donald, in a sort of bubbly sixties pop style.  It was fun to watch and listen to, and it is still stuck in my head more than a month later.  It didn’t really advance the plot, but that didn’t matter.

As things get more and more confused and messed up for the fellows from Syracuse, I noticed that they became more and more disheveled with every entrance, jackets lost, shirttails untucked, bow tie undone and almost falling off.  Their Ephesian twins, more domestic and prosperous, didn’t get quite as unravelled.

And then just before things fall apart completely, the tidy denouement worthy of Gilbert and Sullivan has the twins reuniting, the Abbess (Collette Radau, in full habit and wimple subduing audience and citizens with intimidating facial expressions) declaring herself to be the missing wife of Aegeon, and everyone getting their money and jewellery back.

I was particularly impressed by Julia Van Dam’s performance as the Duke of Ephesus.  Her physicality conveyed the character’s undoubted authority, and it was clear in the first scene that the Duke regretted being unable to pardon Aegeon but was unwilling to break the law.  She didn’t play the part as a man; the Duke was referred to with female pronouns and this worked just fine.

The next play in the Red Deer College performance series, featuring some of these performers, is a musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, adapted by Jim DeFelice with music by Larry Reese.  It opens tomorrow night, Thursday November 21st, at 7:30 pm on the Mainstage at the RDC Arts Centre.

Summertime at Red Deer College: confusing reality in a magical setting

In the Ontario city where I used to live, a few of the downtown commercial blocks had internal courtyards that you could access through twisty brick passages, so that you’d end up in a magical place in the middle where you couldn’t see or hear any cars.  In the best of these, there was a restaurant patio or two, with lattice sunshades and white fairy lights wound around the sunshades and trees, so that you could have a drink or a dinner in a place that felt like a couple of twists away from reality.

Last night I walked into Studio A at the Red Deer College Arts Centre to find it transformed into such a magical courtyard, for the Theatre Performance and Creation program’s production of Charles Mee’s Summertime, as directed by Lynda Adams, an instructor in the program.  The risers for the audience were arranged on three sides, with white cloth draperies over each chair pinned with an artificial flower, like at a wedding reception.  Clear twinkling light illuminated white garden furniture and several trees; closer inspection showed the tree branches full of white teacups.  Three identically-dressed actors were already present on the stage, three young women going through stylised synchronised motions of reading, writing, sitting and standing while seeming completely unaware of each other.

Looking at the program revealed that the three, Jessie Muir, Constance Isaac and Taylor Pfeifer, were all cast as Tessa, and several other roles were also filled by two or three actors.   This was a choice made by director Adams in order to include all 21 members of the ensemble in the production, and it turned out to work surprisingly well with Mee’s source text, particularly the first bit which is cryptic, full of awkward pauses and what I think of as gnomic.  The duplicate or triplicate actors sometimes recited the line together, and sometimes alternated.  Their actions were sometimes identical and symmetrical, with each of the three Tessas looking at one James (JP Lord, Dustin Funk, Lucas Hackl) and one François (Tyler Johnston, Chase Condon, and Richard Leurer), and sometimes the three would be responding differently or all rushing to one corner of the stage.  It took surprisingly little time to get accustomed to this narrative convention.

As the story unfolds, the self-possessed young woman Tessa is rattled by two unexpected suitors, then overwhelmed by a crowd of family and friends arriving.  As the characters interact we can see why Tessa soon exclaims

“This is what I grew up with!
What chance did I have with a family like this?
And you want to fall in love with me?
How can anyone expect me to form any kind of relationship
with another human being?”

François, who at first seemed the more appropriate suitor for Tessa than the painfully awkward stranger James, seems to have previously been involved with not just the family friend Mimi (Victoria Day), but also with Tessa’s mother Maria (Julia VanDam, Megan Einarson and Brittany Martyshuk), glamorous, remote, and somehow European, with a flowered scarf in her hair or thrown around her neck.  Two staid slouching middle-aged men outfitted from an LL Bean catalogue for cottage weekends, with baggy khakis and brightly coloured sweaters, turn out to be Tessa’s father Frank (Jake Tkaczyk), and Edmund (Bret Jacobs), Frank’s friend, companion, and lover.  Other friends, connections, and a pizza delivery man (Sasha Sandmeier, Victoria Day, Wayne De Atley) react to each other showing that everything is more complicated than originally assumed, and that nobody is happy with the situations.  Barbara, who seems to be the housekeeper (Jennifer Suter and Collette Radau), interrupts with an over-the-top and very funny tirade about men.  Frank starts out as a sort of genial absentminded host and observer, but we soon find out that even the calm Edmund is full of resentments, in his case against Frank.  The first act ends with all this discontent stirred up into a wonderfully-chaotic choreographed piece by the whole cast stomping and whirling about the crowded space to percussion accompaniment, bouncing off each other and exclaiming their frustrations with love, while Frank periodically shouts “Excuse me!” You can tell this ensemble has some rigorous training in physical theatre and has been working together for many months.

In the second act, things are quieter and the dialogue a bit more conventional, but it seems unlikely that any of these people would be happy together.  Frank makes a speech which starts with the repeated motif of the play that love is complicated these days, and leads to a long thoughtful observation about life changing continuously and the past disappearing as it is lived.  Tessa seems to be considering both James and François as suitors.  Maria reconciles with Frank.  An odd challenge leads to all the male characters doffing their trousers to lie down in plaid boxer shorts and colour-co-ordinated socks.  A few neighbours, Gunther, Bertha, and Hilda (Wayne De Atley, Jessica Bordley, and Rebecca Lozinski), drop in and add to the complications, until a tilt towards resolution is hinted at by Hilda, who makes a delightful and impassioned speech in favour of pursuing love.  Eventually there are happy romantic resolutions for some of the couples, but things don’t work out as tidily as in Anything Goes, particularly for Frank, who slumps alone at the side of the stage as some of the happy couples dance tenderly and the lights dim.

I don’t know any words for the genre of this play.  Some of the marketing materials suggested a light drawing room comedy, but trying to read the script before I’d seen it was as much a struggle as trying to read Waiting for Godot or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.  Maybe it was like Noel Coward done in the absurdist tradition?

The set design, colour choices for the costumes (both by Sheena Haug), and lighting (Heather Cornick) contributed effectively to the not-quite-real mood.  As someone who loves both bright colours and socks, I was immediately enchanted to see many of the characters wearing bright co-ordinated socks, Tessa in rainbow-stripes, James matching their turquoise shirts, and François in a bright purple that complemented their outfit.  Original music was written and performed by Jordan Galloway.

I enjoyed this performance very much, but I am still thinking about it.  Like all of Charles Mee’s work, the script is available on line.  It’s easier to read after seeing the play than it was beforehand.  I’m considering seeing it again before its run ends Sunday night, and if this sounds intriguing you should too.  Tickets are available through Black Knight Ticket Centre out of Red Deer, and at the door.  Red Deer College and its Arts Centre are easy to find right off Highway 2 in Red Deer.