Central Alberta Theatre has gone ‘all western’ with their first theatrical outing of the season, currently onstage at the Quality Inn North Hill. Performances for Wild Dust, penned by Flip Kobler and directed by Craig Scott, continue Oct. 23rd-25th, 30th-31st and Nov. 1st, 5th-6th. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 6 p.m. and curtain at 7:30 p.m.
A dust storm is about to hit town back in the old west of the 1880s. The men have gone to take care of the cattle leaving their women to take shelter in the solidly built saloon/brothel. But things tense up when essentially two worlds collide – a couple of ‘society ladies’ have taken shelter in the midst of the working girls. Add to that the arrival of Cooper (Daniel Huss) who stumbles in seeking shelter, and the plot thickens that much more.
Rounding out the cast are Laura Grinde as Marion, Muriah Willis as Belle, Carla Falk as Sally, Alex Taylor as Denise, Cynthia Edwards as Louise, Myra Ouellette as Gertie, Kathryn Huedepohl as ‘Hard’ Cora and Roxzane Armstrong as Rebecca.
Wild Dust is really a mix of humour and drama – there’s a few tense bits to be sure plus a dash of romance — all elements that make for a pretty solid story line. The set is well put together and most importantly, the cast gelled well as an ensemble. Kudos to Craig for providing solid direction for this group – a larger cast then what would normally be seen on a CAT stage.
Also, he’s done a good job of building a sense of ‘naturalism’ and ease amongst the cast – it’s challenging to have such a large group in a constricted space who are consistently onstage at the same time. Actors have to keep in mind that they have to always be ‘on’, even when they aren’t speaking. Most of the time, this is carried out with a realistic feel.
Standouts among the cast are many – Falk has been perfectly cast as the sarcastic Sally. Falk has a way of delivering lines that pretty well nails the tone of a scene every time.
Willis is also terrific as the rather simple but charming Belle and Grinde, in a way, is kind of the central, balancing force amidst the goings-on around her. She does this really well (plus she wields a wonderful singing voice).
My main criticism of this play is more of an over-arching one – I felt that, on many levels, there needed to be a heightening of both pacing, emotion and expression.
Also, more tension. More animosity. More back and forth fired-up bickering. After all, these women are trapped in a really desperate situation, which could turn deadly.
I don’t for a minute question the talents of those involved with this play, but I would say toss out the inhibitions and let the crackling dialogue be fueled by a fresh sense of energy. In no time, Wild Dust could be a whole lot more ‘wild’.
For tickets, check out www.blackknightinn.ca.