The Central Alberta Theatre troupe is all set to stage their latest dinner theatre offering Making God Laugh, opening Nov. 18th on the Black Knight Inn mainstage.
Performances run through to Dec. 17th with dinner starting at 6 p.m.
Penned by Sean Grennan and directed by CAT veteran Erna Soderberg, Making God Laugh follows one typical American family over the course of 30 years’ worth of holidays and get-togethers.
Starting in 1980, Ruthie and Bill’s grown children – a priest, an aspiring actress and a former football star – all return home where we learn of their plans and dreams as they embark on their adult lives, according to a synopsis.
“The empty-nester parents contend with their own changes, too, as old family rituals are trotted out and ancient tensions flare up. As time passes, the family discovers that, despite what we may have in mind, we often arrive at unexpected destinations.”
The cast features, as the parents, Carla Falk and Blaine Anderson who are joined by their kids (Perry Mill as Richard, Meloni Jordan as Maddie and David Henderson as ‘Father’ Thomas).
As Soderberg points out, there will be plenty that folks will be able to relate to as the story unfolds, as, let’s face it – only a precious few families are really free of any dysfunction.
We first see the family, as mentioned, at an occasion in 1980. Then again in 1990, and 2000. And finally, at an indeterminate time in the future where things reach a compelling conclusion.
Along the way, there are lots of laughs and splashes of poignancy too.
Also, there will be loads of moments that virtually anyone in the audience will be able to relate to – after all, the story reflects the complexities, tensions and realities that bubble up in an everyday, typical family.
Ruthie in particular is pretty blunt about how she feels about things, and her feelings about her kids shine through, too – for better or worse. “Mom loves her children and her family – that’s what her life is – but she loves Father Tom the best because he’s a priest,” said Soderberg of one of the elements of the plot. “He’s the holy child – he’s just the best.”
Maddie’s choice of career, however, doesn’t sit so well with mom, and there are those rattling mother-daughter tensions that pop up time to time.
Richard, the football player, didn’t reach his real potential, and is essentially always trying to find himself.
Each of the kids go through various rites of passage as time passes. And of course, time takes its toll on each member of the family, and clearly, nothing really ever stays the same.
It’s those kinds of sensibilities that help make the play as accessible and relatable as it is. Plus, it’s a real trip down memory lane as we see technology changes come and go which of course many in the audience will remember and get a chuckle out of, too.
There have been a few challenges along the way as the production has taken shape – such as the necessary set changes to move the family ahead in time, plus appropriately ‘aging’ the characters.
But every step of the way, it’s been a fulfilling experience and a creatively rich season.
“It’s been fun – there’s been a good amount of laughs.”
Soderberg said what really drew her to the story was the humour. Plus she found the playwright’s style compelling as well.
“The fact that he uses humour to move a story forward. The humour makes you learn to love these characters and invest in the characters, too,” she said. As to the nature of the story, Soderberg describes it as essentially a comedy with other emotive elements woven in. “It’s a mix, but I would say that it’s a comedy,” explained Soderberg. “When I first read it, I just laughed the whole time – it’s got some snappy, funny little digs.”
For ticket information, check out www.blackknightinn.ca.