As St. Albert Dinner Theatre rounds out its final show of the season, it veers into the world of The Two Timers.
Ontario playwright Rob J. Wheeler paints a screwball scenario of two couples that have let communication drop in their marriage, leading to serious misinterpretations and more than a few chuckles.
Anne/Allan and Bev/Brian are two married couples who have been friends for years. Allan accidentally sets fire to Bev's and Brian’s deck and house. Since insurance agrees to pay for everything except hotel accommodations, Anne/Allan invite Bev/Brian to temporarily share their penthouse apartment.
In anticipation of a splashy home-coming party, the guys, knowing their wives are graceful ballroom dancers, secretly take up dancing lessons to impress them. But when Anne and Bev spot them dancing, they are shocked and mistakenly assume the husbands are gay. Not willing to lose their men, the wives start up their brand of sex therapy by increasing nightly frequency.
“It’s a commentary on relationships, the ups and downs, and the times we are too quick to assume. Sometimes if a relationship is too comfortable or not at its best point, it reflects how the individuals are, too. Bev and Anne fall into their own obsession and push their husbands. And when they think they’re losing their husbands, they push their own boundaries. It’s very rooted in long-term relationships, long-term struggles,” said Sarah Gibson (Barely Heirs).
Making her directing debut with St. Albert Dinner Theatre, Gibson earned her spurs at Keyano College’s two-year theatre program before further exploring film and theatre at Red Deer College.
While the farce’s surface is glazed with silliness, Wheeler lays out a framework that digs into various themes, ranging from communication and personal insecurity to love and the growth of friendships.
The foursome brings back company regulars Shelby Murray (Anne), Jack Morrison (Brian) and Tim Kubasek (Allan). Monica Lefurgy was originally slated to play Bev. However, she had to withdraw for personal reasons and Gibson stepped in to fill the role.
Up to now, switching hats, sometimes in mid-sentence, has been Gibson’s biggest challenge.
“Luckily, I have Courtney Paige, a fantastic stage manager who looks at certain things I’m not able to see. She looks at it from a technical standpoint. I encourage everyone to take risks. But sometimes they don’t work. Courtney is there with that second important pair of eyes.”
Since Murray, Morrison, and Kubasek have worked together on previous productions, they bring familial chemistry to rehearsals.
“The dynamics are very comfortable in a good way. I’m the only one who hasn’t worked with them before. They work together well. Everyone is very supportive and creative. I’m happy to direct a group where the dynamics are relaxed, comfortable, and there is positive energy,” said Gibson.
Part of the productive enthusiasm stems from Wheeler’s charismatic characters.
“Bev is the artistic type — a little more free-going, whereas Annie is quite the opposite. She’s very classy, very well put together. They are polar opposites, but that brings them together.
"As for the men, Brian is a dentist and he’s more laid back. He’s good at manipulating situations and wants to be more creative. Instead, Allan is an English teacher, and he wants to be more like his characters. He tries to put himself in the character he reads.”
As everyone waits for spring to firmly plant itself in the region, Gibson encourages theatregoers to check out the two-act play.
“It has music, dance, comedy, and a lot of laughs. And it’s a little sexy. It’s also a nice classic trope of miscommunication that creates a funny farce. I compare it to a British show I used to watch — Coupling — that was very popular. People want love, sex, and connection. But in wanting it, they sometimes put their foot in their mouth.”
The Two Timers runs April 7 to 9, 14, 16, 17, and 21 to 23 at Kinsmen Banquet Hall, 47 Riel Dr. Tickets are $55 to $60 plus GST. Visit www.stalberttheatre.com or call 780-222-0102.