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Short and sweet

Edmonton is Alberta’s theatrical mecca, a thriving hotbed of live spectacles.

Edmonton is Alberta’s theatrical mecca, a thriving hotbed of live spectacles.

Its latest contribution is the Alberta Drama Festival’s 2010 Stage Struck, an annual one-act play festival showcasing the works of community theatre playwrights, directors and actors. It runs Feb. 26 and 27 at the Walterdale Playhouse, located at 10322 – 83 Ave.

This year the regional festival features comedy, drama, tragedy and even a dash of horror. Within this borscht of flavours, seven are new plays that tackle topical material ranging from romance and post-traumatic stress disorder to dysfunctional families and refugees.

The eighth is Elaine May’s witty Off-Broadway comedy The Way of All Fish directed by Kristen Johnston. In this 35-minute two-hander, a power game ping-pongs between a self-absorbed executive and her devoted secretary who dreams of becoming famous in an unconventional way.

Perhaps the most eerie offering is Chad Carlson’s Frank and Shelly: A Destructive Musical that pokes fun at genetic engineering. In this dark comedy, a brilliant genetic engineer has no luck with men and decides to create the perfect man. Contacting a male call service for specific body parts, she then kills off the escorts. Starring in this eerie horror show are three St. Albert actors — Andrew Jordan, Danny Campbell and Shawn Hubbard.

And from Sandy Beach, Jacqueline Lamb writes and stars in Before I Met Tatenda, a 45-minute one-woman show about a Sudanese woman whose family had been butchered in several atrocities.

“I met her at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. She affected me so deeply. She was so grateful, so happy to be here. She felt safe here. Her story moved me deeply,” said Lamb.

Gerald Osborne’s play Ravenous, a 30-minute dark comedy instead looks at the weighty issue of control in dysfunctional families. “It’s about a non-descript guy caught in a battle between his overweight mother and over-skinny girlfriend,” Osborne explained.

The ongoing romance of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler provides a backdrop for Phil Kreisel’s Tara Redux, a 35-minute love story of three couples who go to see Gone With the Wind. “None of the couples interact with each other, but they are all tied together,” said Kreisel.

In another romance written more in a documentary style, Michele Vance Hehir explores the Mars-Venus aspect of love. In Guy Versus Gayle: A Modern Romance, a young unmarried couple gets pregnant. She has an abortion without telling him and wants to move on. He likes the status quo. “They’re there to talk to the audience and get the audience to pick a side,” Vance Hehir explained.

Another war is brewing in Michael Beamish’s Legion Blues as it examines two Second World War veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. This 40-minute drama was inspired by stories Beamish’s grandfather told and by traumas soldiers deployed to Afghanistan undergo. “It’s our right and responsibility to give soldiers the medical care they need,” Beamish said.

The cost for a three session festival pass is between $24 and $28. Single session tickets are $10 to $12. Call 780-420-1757 or go online to: www.tixonthesquare.ca

Program of Plays

Friday, 7-10 p.m.<br />o Guy Versus Gayle: A Modern Romance<br />o Legion Blues<br />o Ravenous<br />Saturday, 1-4 p.m.<br />o Frank and Shelly: A Destructive Love Musical<br />o Before I Met Tatenda<br />Saturday 7-10 p.m.<br />o Army Brats<br />o The Way of All Fish