Dealing with family can be challenging at the best of the times and even more so at the worst of times.
Theatre Outré brings back their improvised tragi-comedy “No Way Out” to Club Didi, April 3-7. It was a hit at the Lethbridge Fringe Festival a couple years ago and is an excellent way to close off Theatre Outré’s death-themed season, according to general manager and cast member David Gabert.
“It’s what happens when a group of siblings who haven’t seen each other for a while return home for dinner to deal with something they really don’t want to deal with. And over the course of the show as we explore the topic, they peel away the masks they have been wearing and get down to the core of the issue,” said Gabert, noting the cast, which also includes Erica Barr, Camille Pavlenko and Greg Wilson, have informal discussions with the audience before the show to learn about what issues they have been dealing with, which supplies the topic for the evening.
“We don’t ask for suggestions from the audience like usual in an improv show, because it is difficult to talk about these things in front of a group of people,” he said, emphasizing the most important part of the show for the cast is to be real and honest.
“The most important thing is to be honest and sincere. We’ve dealt with things like medical emergencies, dad’s gambling addiction and an extra-marital affair that has resulted in pregnancy,” he said, noting they have been performing it In Lethbridge and for Calgary‘s Suitcase Theatre.
“It’s changed a lot over the past two years as we’re becoming more familiar with each other. It’s hard to pull off the perfect mix of honesty and humour,” he said, noting most of the cast go back almost a decade as they started performing togehter as part of local improv troupe the Drama Nutz.
The set is simply designed to look like an apartment, with objects like guitars, iPhone charger, and books, a radio, dishes, bottles and a diary, all of which can be used as the characters wish. All of the sound on stage is made by the actors.
“The actors can adjust the stage to reflect scenery scenery. It can be used for locations outside the apartment.
“We’ve used the stage as the edge of a dock, so they can sit on the edge of it with their legs dangling. We’ve used it as a gravesite and we can do flashbacks outside the apartment,” Gabert said.
“We can also do flashbacks and flash-forwards,” he added.
“There is real food on stage. So we actually are having a meal together which adds to our roles as family members.”
One different thing about this show is there they aren’t constrained by time limits.
“In the past, we’ve had a 60-minute time limit and have had to rush the end of the story. This time we can let it resolve honestly and naturally,” he said, adding he expects these shows will last between 70-90 minutes.
They created the show over the past couple years with Brandon Eyck and Connor Christmas, who won’t be performing in this edition of the show due to other commitments.
“But we have their pictures on the stage,“ Gabert said, adding that helps create the image of a family.
“Our goal is to be funny, but sincere,” he said.
Exploring such strong and often dark and conflicting emotions takes a toll on the cast.
“We’re still friends,” he said. “We do things outside of the show like going to movies together.
“We practice a lot of self care. We take the time to be positive to each other. We don’t want to offend each other while going to darker places then we ever go in real life.”
“This production fits in well with Theatre Outré’s theme this season of death being a natural foil to life. We’re pushing boundaries by creating characters that are incredibly relatable to the audience,” he added.
“No Way Out” runs April 3-7 at Club Didi. Performances start at 8 p.m. each night with doors opening at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at nowayoutimprov.ca or by calling 403-892-8719. Limited numbers may be available at the door prior to performances.