It’s not very often you see a play that pretty much hits all of the high notes all the way through.
Central Alberta Theatre’s current dinner theatre – Soul Mate – easily manages that feat and then some. The production runs through to Feb. 11th at the Black Knight Inn.
Penned by David Belke and directed by local veteran actor Albertus Koett, the play opens with a rapid-fire discussion between a pair of demons – Moira Bedlam (Tori Grebinski) and Philip Battersea (Jason Steele).
Their chat covers a range of topics, but the main thing really is that Moira just finds human beings pretty boring. Philip, on the other hand, is entranced by the ‘great game’. That’s the ‘art’ of convincing humans that they will indeed have what they’re dreaming of if they agree to sell their souls to the dark side.
As the synopsis explains so aptly, “When Moira gets drawn into the sport by Philip, the unexpected choice of her victim may be more than anyone (or any demon) expected. What results is a high-spirited comedy of demons, desire and discovering humanity.”
Moira and Philip strike a deal – if Moira finds the ‘great game’ that enticing, she won’t journey off and desert him. On the other hand, if she’s not utterly blown away, he has to be her personal servant till the end of time.
And so the zany adventure begins and it seems they have found the perfect ‘victim’ in Owen (Richard Jackson), who lives a rather pitiful and lonely existence. To make matters worse, he’s absolutely love-struck. Owen is downright crazy about his strict and formidable boss Kayley (Tara Rorke) but she’s just not interested in him at all. In fact, she fires him.
Enter Moira and Philip with their diabolical plan for Owen. Pretty soon he’s onto them, and that’s when the action really takes off. I won’t give anything else away, except to say there are a string of delicious twists and turns along the way all told superbly well by this truly outstanding cast.
As mentioned, it’s rare to see a cast ‘gel’ so well – each of these actors turn in absolutely fabulous performances – they are funny, engaging, charming and they never miss a beat in terms of their razor-sharp comic timing.
Which is extremely important, as this is a brisk play where the momentum doesn’t stall for a second.
Belke’s script is very wordy – but in the very best way possible. As director Koett has said, there are times when the characters are almost talking on top of each other. But it’s never cluttered or overbearing. In fact, the story breezes along with a compelling, rambunctious sense of fun.
Belke is obviously a master at weaving together a terrific story with a stamp of sophistication and even, at times, elegance in terms of language. That said, it’s always accessible and just flat-out entertaining from start to finish as well.
Grebinski and Steele are just fantastic as the scheming pair of demons. They have a bold, natural chemistry, and are just so tremendously good at capturing the sly sensibilities of their characters.
Rorke is also very strong as Kayley, nailing the shifting nuances of her character so well as the story moves along.
Rorke is a really solid actor – no matter what the script calls for, she nails it. And the same can be said for Jackson as Owen, who goes through a distinct kind of transformation of his own. Jackson is a natural – he’s funny and so very convincing in this role and is clearly having a superb time of it, too. That really goes for the cast as a whole – they are pouring their all into this production – and it shows. Their charisma makes it win at every turn.
Ultimately, Koett deserves so much credit for putting together such a polished, fun and sharply-produced theatrical experience.
This is indeed a ‘smart comedy’, and Koett, who is also a very talented actor in his own right, clearly knows how to bring out the finest in what is already a truly gifted set of performers. Kudos to all involved.
For ticket information, visit www.blackknightinn.ca.