As Red Deer College Theatre Studies embarks on week two of its current production A Chorus of Disapproval, hopefully elements that got in the way of the engaging show clear up.
Directed by Jeff Page, the show runs through Dec. 4 on the Arts Centre mainstage. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. A matinee runs Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. as well.
Written by Alan Ayckbourn, the play follows a cast as they ‘plot and scheme’ their way through an amateur rehearsal of The Beggar’s Opera.
Guy Jones joins the cast just hoping to step back into life after losing his wife a year earlier. As the bumpy rehearsal schedule unfolds, he finds himself in one unexpected quandary after another and best of all, he keeps landing larger roles in the show.
Mike Mohr plays Guy to perfection, capturing all the man’s earnestness, innocence wonderfully. As Page noted in an earlier interview, what happens when you put an ‘everyman’ in with a bunch of eccentrics? Mohr shows audiences the answer to that question, absolutely shining in the part.
Jesse Byiers is also terrific as ‘at-his-wit’s-end’ director Dafydd ap Llewellyn and Nevada Banks is also outstanding as his wife Hannah, trying to sort out her own frustrations and issues (she and Guy also strike up a romance) while acting under her husband’s demanding direction as well. And speaking of romance, some of the play’s funniest moments stem from Guy’s ‘interactions’ with Fay Hubbard (Katie Orsten) who holds, shall we say, unconventional approaches to relationships much to Guy’s initial delightful confusion.
Amber Whitebone is also hilarious as the sharp-tongued stage manager Bridget Baines.
Ultimately, the cast as a whole are a treat to watch. The only obstacle, at times, was hearing every word they had to say. To my understanding, that problem had been largely dealt with after opening night, but it was still an issue from time to time during the performance I saw. Tackling British accents, even though they were done well, also didn’t exactly make some of the softer voices easier to make out.
As to the script, it’s a charming tale but the momentum tends to slow when we see some of Guy’s goings-on behind the scenes. The conversations go on too long and although of course these elements are key to the script, they are too often drawn-out portions of the play.
Still, A Chorus of Disapproval is visually a pleasure, and there are lots of strong, expressive moments that offer the students much to work with — both acting-wise and musically. A tighter pace and bolstered clarity in hearing the entire production would do plenty to add to its appeal.
A Chorus of Disapproval is recommended for ages 14 and up.
For tickets, call Ticketmaster at 403-340-4455 or visit www.ticketmaster.ca.