CAT’s The Psychic offers entertaining twist on mystery

Central Alberta Theatre has taken on a new flavor to their dinner theatre productions with their latest show The Psychic.

The play runs through to April 15 at City Centre Stage.

Written by Sam Bobrick and directed by Matt Grue (artistic director of the Red Deer-based Ignition Theatre), The Psychic starts off on a brisk, promising, light-hearted note. Much of the reason for that is central character/fledgling writer Adam Webster, who is wonderfully performed by Jeremy Robinson.

A familiar actor to local audiences, Robinson has an undeniable charm and almost instant likeability in pretty much whatever role he tackles. He’s one of the actors that makes it look so easy, which of course is testament to his talent of really inhabiting his roles.

As to the story, Webster is struggling to make ends meet in his bid to pen mysteries. In desperation, he puts a sign in his window advertising psychic services to pull in a few extra bucks. One day, an attractive woman by the name of Laura Benson (Sarah Gibson) strolls in for some ‘advice’ about her troubled marriage and other nagging questions.

Adam ultimately finds he may be more ‘gifted’ then he first thought when reflecting about her situation, and no one is more surprised than he.

The plot thickens as Laura’s husband Roy (Jason Steele) drops by to confront Adam about what he told Laura. Of course, there’s more to Roy than first meets the eye, as he’s tangled up with another woman Rita Malone (Tara Rorke).

The smarmy Johnny Bubbles (Derek Olinek) adds a splash of trouble to the mix and finally Detective Norris Coslow (Michael Sutherland) comes onboard to try and make sense of the increasingly complex web.

Each actor brings a unique strength to the show – Sutherland can always be counted on for a solid performance, as can Olinek – both of whom are talented CAT regulars. Steele is lots of fun as Roy and Rorke does a clever, witty turn as Rita Malone.

Gibson is a pleasant addition to the CAT stage as well, and is pretty much at the heart of the story. She measures up to the demands of the script effectively, and the play’s most promising moments shine through when her and Robinson are onstage. They have a nice, natural chemistry.

All that said, The Psychic as a story doesn’t exactly reach out and grab you with any kind of raw, compelling originality.

But director Matt Grue can be counted on to take whatever script he is handed and make the very most of it.

He has a way with actors, consistently bringing the best out of them. Time and again, his gift for injecting mood, irony and charm into a script touches show after show as well. Weaknesses of the script aside, there were sweet and entertaining moments that landed a steady stream of chuckles from the audience.

But had The Psychic not had Grue’s clever and insightful impact, or the authentic talents of Robinson at the centre of the show, it doubtfully would have worked as well as it ultimately did.

Next up for CAT is Asylum which opens April 27.

For ticket information, check out www.centralalbertatheatre.ca.

editor@reddeerexpress.com

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