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St. Albert Dinner Theatre closes the season with a $1 million play

REVIEW

Barely Heirs

St. Albert Dinner Theatre

Runs April 13, 18 to 20 and 25 to 27

Kinsmen Banquet Hall

47 Riel Dr.

Tickets: $55 adults, $50 seniors. Call 780-222-0102 or online at www.stalberttheatre.com

 

Remember the Oliver Stone movie, Wall Street, starring Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, an unscrupulous corporate raider using illegal methods to acquire mega wealth and power?

The movie spawned a trendy pop-culture saying, “greed is good.” Throughout the opening night of St. Albert Dinner Theatre’s final season production, Barely Heirs, that phrase kept floating through my mind.

American playwright David Lassig has written a comedic farce that on the surface is packed with gags, yet underneath the laughter there is a lighthearted dissection of greed.

The ball starts rolling on the day a lawyer, Willimena, arrives at Jane’s house to sign inheritance documents. Jane stands to inherit $1 million from a deceased aunt with the stipulation the young woman needs to be married in six months.

Jane is single and has co-opted her neighbour, Tom, to appear as a pretend-husband. But Tom is late in arriving to sign the documents and Willimena is impatient. To speed things along, Jane asks her best friend, Claire, Tom’s wife, to appear as a second stand-in husband.

The white lies start small and get bigger until they’re such twisted whoppers, no one remembers who said what. Keeping the action on point are disguises, mistaken identities, surprise appearances, catfights, poop jokes and a couple of foot chases.

The action heats up right at the beginning of the first act when Jane’s former fiancé, Paul, moves back in. Creating additional tension are the mustachioed Pedro, a pool boy, Pablo, an interior decorator, and Judy the nurse.

The pressure cooker environment is increasingly heightened after Betty, Jane’s mother, drops by to meet her new son-in-law, and a police officer gives chase to a clothes-stealing peeping Tom.

First-time director Rob Beeston is an actor’s director. He understands the push and pull comedy requires to maintain momentum, and he’s kept the action moving at a brisk pace while at the same time allowing the jokes to breathe.

Maya Molly as Jane delivers an incredibly strong performance. On stage virtually the entire time, she carries the full weight of the farce. Molly creates a multi-dimensional character arc of a selfish, manipulative woman who degenerates into a pit of humiliation and redeems herself through honesty.

Omer Aubin’s serious comedic chops are full-throttle as Tom as well as other wacko characters. A risk-taker on stage, he offers both hilarity and empathy and quickly became a crowd favourite.

Sarah Gibson as Claire, Tom’s loving wife who is in the dark about Tom and Jane’s arrangement, gives a delightfully deranged performance when the facts come to life.

Christine Gold is superb as Willimina, the slippery lawyer with a hidden agenda, and Joanne Poplett powers up her tart, no-nonsense charm as Betty, Jane’s mother.

Colin Stewart as the naive, romantic Paul is the ideal foil to Jane’s machinations while Rita Jensen receives kudos as the confused, slightly dippy Officer Ricki.

Barely Heirs gives broad comedy a facelift with its layered punchlines, broad slapstick and honest acting.

It runs April 13, 18 to 20 and 25 to 27 at Kinsmen Banquet Hall.

 




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Anna Borowiecki

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