For anyone who has ever had a pet, the storyline from Indoor/Outdoor – the latest production from the Red Deer Players – will certainly strike several funny and poignant chords.
Indoor/Outdoor runs through to Oct. 29th on the Centennial stage at the Scott Block. Curtain is at 8 p.m.
Penned by Kenny Finkle and directed by Ashley Mercia, the story focuses on a feisty, lovable feline by the name of Samantha (Roxzane Armstrong) and her owner Shuman (Dan Vasquez). Rounding out the cast are Emily Cupples, who plays the hilarious cat therapist Mathilda, and Arick Yasinski who does a masterful turn as Oscar – the adventurous ‘outdoor’ cat who eventually woos Samantha to explore the exciting enticements beyond her four constraining walls.
This play, really, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. For one thing, I have rarely watched a show that is so perfectly cast.
It’s frankly impossible to think of a better choice of an actor to play the part of Samantha than Armstrong. She absolutely nails each and every nuance of cat-like behaviour to a ‘T’. She’s got the energy, the fire, the sulkiness and attitude to convincingly pull it off. Armstrong can play vulnerable; she’s terrific with portraying melancholy and stinging regret, but she’s also loads of fun, too. By the end of the show, you can’t help but be struck by her mesmerizing and heartfelt, charming performance.
But back to the story for a second – the play first hit the theatre scene back in 2006.
Samantha, a bewildered little kitten, ends up at a shelter, but is adopted thankfully by a friendly fellow by the name of Shuman. The two are instantly inseparable.
But as things move along, an idyllic existence begins to crumble. Shuman, who works at home designing web sites, has a whole lot of issues it seems, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a sincere, caring and fun-loving guy.
But Samantha feels like she needs more in her life. She’s also deeply frustrated with Shuman’s seeming inability to really understand her.
Enter the charming alley cat Oscar – he and Sam are crazy about each other almost from the start. Samantha is torn – she is longing for freedom from what she sees as an increasingly stifling life with Shuman, and decides to hit the road with Oscar.
Of course, there are plenty of dramatic twists and turns getting to this point, but I won’t give them away. Suffice it to say that Indoor/Outdoor doesn’t let up with the laughs, the fun, the thought-provoking moments and the downright touching scenes right through.
As mentioned, particularly if you’ve ever owned a pet, you will find plenty in this play that will really affect you – but even if you’ve never had a pet, this story is so downright entertaining and engaging, you just can’t go wrong by taking it in.
As mentioned, the cast as a whole are simply terrific. Vasquez is superb as Shuman, who is a rather complicated guy – he’s super sensitive and easily hurt, but he’s also got piles of energy and is so much fun for Samantha in those early days in particular.
Vasquez pours virtually everything he has into his performance, as do Cupples and Yasinski.
Cupples is just a blast as the well-intentioned Mathilda, who is frequently on the cusp of panic but also has a real desire to assist Samantha in finding her way. Cupples is a constant joy and delight to watch, no matter what a particular scene calls for.
Well, it’s tough to think of enough adjectives – really funny, engaging, scene-stealing and incredibly versatile. Together, the four of them light up the stage with amazing chemistry and just an obvious, flat-out commitment to making this show the best it can be.
Director Mercia of course deserves heaps of credit for injecting this show with so much warmth, heart and life. Sincere congratulations must go to her for the careful attention she has paid to every single aspect of the performances, and for building such a superb, compelling show from start to finish.
Indoor/Outdoor has been described as an, “Allegory about the difficulties and joys of all manner of relationships.” That’s exactly true. I left feeling a renewed sense of how important those key relationships in life really are, and how we can’t take them for granted for a single second. And that there is always room for a second chance.
Tickets ($20) are available at www.reddeerplayers.com and at Sunworks (4924 50th St.)