Things certainly get off to a peculiar start in Central Alberta Theatre’s first dinner theatre of the season – Buying the Moose.
But thankfully, there is an explanation for the bizarre goings-on.
The production is currently onstage at the Black Knight Inn through to Nov. 4th.
Penned by Michael G. Wilmot, the play is directed by Glorene Ellis with an exceptional cast featuring CAT veterans Cynthia Edwards, Deb O’Brien, Perry Mill and newcomer Ian Hengeveld.
As to the story, it’s a pleasant, well-paced show with, as director Ellis has put it, ‘relatable’ humour as it’s essentially about some of the notable and major differences between men and women – specifically how they perceive things and interpret things from two very different vantage points.
After his wife Betty (Edwards) discovers him with a blow-up doll, Rob (Hengeveld) is out in the cold when she, for some reason assumes the worst. But that’s not all. Rob is also wearing a tube top at the time, plus he has the blow-up doll decked out in one of his wife’s dresses.
There’s a logical explanation for all of this, but we don’t learn about all of that until further down the road as the plot unfolds.
Where many of the funny moments surface are in the conversations between Rob and his brother Greg (Mill) who dashes over to try and get to the bottom of why Betty is so upset and has stormed out on Rob. Then there is the snappy talk between Betty and Greg’s wife Cheryl (O’Brien).
Ellis is correct when she observes that elements of both conversations contain things we can all – at least to some degree – relate to in figuring out how the opposite sex are looking at precisely the same issue or circumstance.
And while the material, in that sense, may not all be strikingly original, Wilmot has put together a script that rolls along, as mentioned, in a light and pleasant manner. And much of the credit for the show’s overall effectiveness stems from the talents of the cast. Leading the way really is O’Brien, who has lit up the CAT stage numerous times over the years in roles that have demanded plenty of varying emotional expressions. Here, she is the smooth-talking buddy and warm, listening ear to Betty’s frantic ramblings – and O’Brien captures the easy-going, funny nature of Cheryl perfectly.
Edwards also has been featured in many plays, and is probably at her best in a show like this that demands she be kind of in a frazzled state all the way through. Ultimately, both women sparkle in their roles really because of who they are in the first place – fun, engaging and charismatic actors who never fail to bring a ‘special something’ to any role they latch onto.
As for the guys, Mill is excellent as Greg – the brother who is trying to help as long as he doesn’t have to tread too deeply into areas that may make him uncomfortable. Greg’s a bit shallow, but he clearly means well. And he probably has some of the best lines in the play. Mill gets it all right, down to the snappy delivery and the occasional sarcastic tone.
As mentioned, Hengeveld is the newcomer to CAT and he does a strong turn in the key role of Rob – who is at first just plain mysterious but gradually becomes more transparent as the story moves along. The thing is, we like Rob – in spite of his foibles. He means well and simply wants to put Betty first. You will have to see the play to find out how his actions at the beginning of the play are connected to the final outcome.
Buying the Moose isn’t, as already pointed out, the most original piece of theatre that’s ever been staged. It’s more a case of how the right folks onstage can make a moderately engaging story that much better.
In an earlier interview, Ellis said she’s read plenty of scripts over the years in preparation for a number of shows, and this one just jumped out.
“I read it and offered to do it right away if CAT wanted me to. I always say the cream rises to the top, and I found that this script has something a little bit different for me. And it carried all the way through.”
For more information and for tickets, visit centralalbertatheatre.net or check out www.blackknightinn.ca.