Cornerstone Theatre Inc.'s 'An Evening of Coarse Acting' delivered three comedic performances within four short, satirical plays - a murder mystery set in 1930s England, a contemporary piece exploring the many sides of man, a family drama set in a British mining village and a nineteenth-century French farce involving infidelity among the upper classes. The entire production was under the direction of Lane and Colleen Easton.
“This year, we're doing something a little bit different,” Lane previously told The Observer. “We have four coarse acting plays - just short one-act plays - in the coarse acting style, which basically follows the same style of murder mysteries that we do; but this will be a satire, so we're spoofing on what we generally do.”
The Eastons credit Cornerstone's Don Carter for finding scripts for the company - and Carter says: “I read scripts and I check a lot of performances out on YouTube. I saw these plays and I thought the whole idea of 'coarse acting' was funny - and I hope our audiences do, too.”
Carter had no reason for concern, as the comedy was evident during each of the short plays. Falling walls, tricky tables, beleagured prompters - and more - demonstrated potential pitfalls for performers everywhere - and the Cornerstone crew's comedic rendering drew laughs from their audiences. And in a touching tribute to the Humboldt Broncos, a hockey stick remained on stage throughout each of the four performances.
In “Streuth” by Michael Green, the action takes place in 1930s England. The setting is the posh drawing room of D'Arcy Manor, where a classic - but comedic - whodunit unfolds. The drawing room comedy's cast: Don Carter (Introducer), Monte McNaughton (Inspector), Jesse Twietmeyer (Mr. Oliver D'Arcy), Wendy McNaughton (Mrs. Oliver D'Arcy), Bryanne Forcier (Hubert), Fred Perry (the Major), Craig Savill (James), Terry Field (Cook), Matt Gesell (the Vicar), Sandra Campbell (Prompter) and Kyle Bye (the Sargent). This 'Upstairs-Downstairs' cast of characters navigate the tale of a theatre company's staging of a murder mystery that is full of mayhem and mishaps.
“Two Eggs” by Stephen Bittrich has Colleen Easton's Jane meeting a neighbour with unnerving and amusing personality traits, as the four faces of Skip - Kiss Ass Skip, Depressed Skip, Cave Man Skip and Barry White Skip - are played by Lane Easton, David Slykhuis, Matt Gesell and Monte McNaughton, respectively.
The action returns to England in Michael Green's 'A Collier's Tuesday Tea.' Cast members Deb Sorenson (Ida), David Slykhuis (Daniel), Bryanne Forcier (Victoria), Monte McNaughton (Albert), Craig Savill (Joe Clegghorn), Candy Bye (Marjorie), Matt Gesell (Lionel), Bertha Isleifson (PC Clement) and Jesse Twietmeyer (Jed Throttle) more than hold their own - and manage to keep straight faces - in this tale which featured an increasingly tricky table.
The final play - 'A Fish in Her Kettle' by Michael Green - is a French farce filled with intrigue, infidelity, a French maid, misplaced pants and a group of minstrels. The cast - Don Carter (House Manager), Terri Field (Antionette), Monte McNaughton (Felix), Matt Gesell (Victor), David Slykhuis (Dr. Henri), Bertha Isleifson (Eugenie), Craig Savill (Captain Emile), Sandra Campbell (Mademoiselle Lucille), Jesse Twietmeyer (Count Otto), Wendy McNaughton (Cook), Candy Bye, Kyle Bye, Bryanne Forcier and Fred Perry (Minstrels) and Deb Sorenson (Prompter) - presented this classic French farce gone wrong.
In addition to the cast - who also acted as the stage crew - others involved in the production include: Shelley and David Slykhuis who donated their time to prepare a pre-play supper for appreciative audiences on Friday and Saturday, Doug Waldner (Lights and sound), Don Carter (Advertising and tickets), Marylin Carter (Poster, programs and billboard) Brenda Beaver (Gordon F. Kells High School) and Fengche Flowers (Box Office).
Lane Easton says this year's spring production is the result of the company's growing cast. “We did four small plays this year to accommodate more people,” he says. “A lot of people want to be involved with Cornerstone Theatre and they're bringing new ideas and energy.”