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Courtesy Lunchbox Theatre

The Exquisite Hour explores an unlikely friendship

By Gurman Sahota, February 14 2017 —

What would you do if an encyclopedia salesperson wound up in your backyard one warm summer night? Set in 1962, The Exquisite Hour explores what Zachary Teale does when he meets encyclopedia salesperson Helen Darimont in his backyard. Written by Edmonton playwright Stewart Lemoine, Lunchbox Theatre will present the play until Mar. 4.

Director Samantha MacDonald came across the script nearly six years ago, but only recently decided to produce the piece in Calgary. The hour-long performance had only two weeks of rehearsals before its Feb. 13 opening night.

In the midst of a cold winter and the shaky political climate, MacDonald hopes the play will lift people’s hearts.

“It has a hopeful message, which is very important in our world right now because it’s set in the summer,” MacDonald says. “Obviously, [with] us being here in the middle of February where it’s cold and snowy, it felt like a nice break for Calgarians in the middle of winter. They get to come into the theatre and be immersed in the backyard in the summer time.”

MacDonald says Lemoine’s comedic writing and distinct sense of humour shine through in the play with the aid of the cast. MacDonald went through different actors in different combinations in order to find the perfect fit for the lead characters, eventually casting Barbara Gates Wilson and Curt McKinstry.

“Their chemistry is fantastic and their comedy is great — as soon as you saw them together in the room, it made perfect sense,” MacDonald says.

Adhering to Lunchbox Theatre’s mandate of producing plays that are relevant to its audiences, MacDonald says the theatre offers its patrons a new perspective in order to open their eyes to something new and different when producing large political works. The theatre hopes to take audiences out of their comfort zones with the play.

“We try to temper that with works that are going to be more easily digestible, but you never want to get complacent with what you’re choosing for your audience,” MacDonald says.  “You never want them to feel that they’re being taken for granted.”

Even though the play is meant to be a sweet experience, there is also a message of hope and bravery.

“The female character in the play essentially makes a decision that impacts her life and impacts the life of Zachary Teale. There’s a sense of bravery to it that I think is also a nice message for our audiences,” MacDonald says. “I do hope that audience members see that and take that away and maybe they choose to pursue their own exquisite hour in whatever way [suits] them.”

The Exquisite Hour will run until Mar. 4 at Lunchbox Theatre. Tickets are available online.

For more information, visit lunchboxtheatre.com

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