Left to right: Melodie Hull and Peter Schalk in “Next

Left to right: Melodie Hull and Peter Schalk in “Next

Age of transformation

Cranbrook Community Theatre presents two plays — “The Exquisite Hour” and “Next” — one the dark mirror of the other

Both sides of the 1960s are on display at the Studio Stage Door, as Cranbrook Community Theatre presents two one-act comedies.

“The Exquisite Hour,” written by Stewart Lamoine and directed here by Elizabeth Ross, and “Next,” written by Terrance McNally and directed by Bob McCue, open tonight, Friday, Jan. 24, starting at 8 p.m.

“The Exquisite Hour” is set in 1962 — a bright age, quirky, mind-expanding, colourful, with a sense that the world is changing.

Zachary Teale (Patrick Baranowski) — department store manager, bachelor, gentle, unfailingly polite — has an hour to spare and has been charmed into giving it over to Helen Darimont (Jennifer Inglis), an encyclopedia saleswoman who has entered Teale’s backyard while he is relaxing, drinking lemonade.

This is not the era of the hard sell. Mrs. Darimont — clad in a summery garden party ensemble and armed with a Life Magazine smile, conversationally circles Teale’s cheery neighbourliness and sensitivity, looking for a way in — for a way in for the sale!

To convince Teale of the value of her compendium, Darimond begins teaching him how to use the encyclopedia as a conversation starter, and takes him on a series of role-playing exercises based on random entries from Volume H (the only volume she has brought along). Thus the pair transport themselves, and us the audience, with tales of the miraculous conversion of St. Hubert, the Hohenstaufen dynasty of Swabia, Hannibal of Carthage, and other enchantments beginning with H.

“The Exquisite Hour” is about the triumph of general knowledge; of trivia as a pathway to a rich, fullfilling life. It unfolds like a Billy Wilder comedy — but maybe that’s just the bourbon in the lemonade.

If the opening play is infused with the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, the second play, “Next,” takes us to the end of the decade — its comedy is accordingly dark, angry, unsettled, self-questioning.

Our hero — the hapless, eccentric, academic Marion Cheever (Peter Schalk) — enters the army induction centre with a urine sample and a magnificent belly. He is as unwarlike a personality as you could ever meet. Yet here he is, getting sucked into the war machine. He has reported for his draft physical, to his disbelief and great displeasure, and is to be put through the mill by the harsh examining officer Sergeant Thech (Melodie Hull).

The series of physical and psychological tests are part of the ritual humiliation the potential recruit Cheever is subjected to. But Cheever knows something, it turns out, about mental cruelty, and and he is going to use every tactic at his disposal to get that 4-F classification — unfit for service. Humiliation is not high on the list of his concerns. But Sgt. Thech is made of tougher stuff than Cheever’s ex-wives. Her job is to deliver the fuel for the war machine, and she’s good at her job. Let the battle be joined.

But what will the cost be for our hero? After being so thoroughly broken down, Cheever must build himself up again, if he will be able to walk out the door back into his life.

The four actors in these two plays have great space and material to display their acting, comedic and physical talents, and use the space and their abilities to great effect. Baranowksi and Inglis expand the theatre and banish our humdrum routines. Hull and Schalk draw us into their claustrophobic confrontation. We make special note of Schalk’s remarkable angry soliloquy at the climax of “Next,” performed to the background of a typewriter.

Produced by Kristy Quinn, “The Exquisite Hour” and “Next” will run together for eight nights, January 24 and 25, January 30, 31 and February 1, February 6, 7 and 8 at the Stage Door in Cranbrook. Tickets are $13 for CCT members, $15 for non-members and are available at Lotus Books or at the door.

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

1914
It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

Cranbrook Arts has opened the doors of their  new gallery space to the public with their inaugural exhibit, Kootenay’s Best.
‘Kootenay’s Best’ opens Cranbrook Arts’ new gallery

This exhibit has been in the works for the past several months and features the work of more than 50 emerging and established artists from across the Kootenays

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read