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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Stage West Calgary "Suite Surrender"

Stage West Calgary
"Suite Surrender"

Directed by J. Sean Elliott

Starring Kevin Hare, Chantal Perron, and Elizabeth Stepkowski Tarhan

Courtesy Stage West Calgary

Michael McKeever is a prolific fellow - his website indicates some 39 plays ranging from comedies to dramas to shorts. Unless I’m seriously mistaken, my first McKeever play was last night, Stage West Calgary’s "Suite Surrender".

That is one of his comedies, and a farce at that. Having nothing else to gauge against, I’d be curious to see even more of his work. After a bit of a slow start, the cast of zany characters and the absurd plot explode into outright hilarity, moving briskly towards a conclusion that first allows for most every actor to have their own moment in the spotlight. Some more than others, admittedly.

It is the strong cast of characters and the sure hand of director J. Sean Elliott that makes this such an enjoyable outing. While I do have to hold back as usual for my official Calgary Herald review, I can say that Elliott has outdone himself with this play, his direction, and the casting - a stellar collection of actors you’ve seen before on this stage, and a few you may have not.

Courtesy Stage West Calgary

Kevin Hare is one of the returnees, and as General Manager of the Palm Beach Royale Hotel, spends more time juggling than managing - given that this is set in 1942, it would be apt to suggest that he’s juggling potential hand grenades while the assorted branches of the actual military are downstairs creating havoc of their own.   

Elizabeth Stepkowski Tarhan and Chantal Perron return as well, as the two potential hand grenades that spur the plot along as rival divas and apparent mortal enemies erroneously assigned to the same presidential suite. 

Natascha Girgis returns to Stage West this time out as the scene-stealing gossip columnist Dora del Rio, who encounters more than her fair share of the slamming doors of this farce - the after-effects being some of the strongest comedic moments of the evening.

I’m just touching on a few highlights here (again, saving morsels for my other review!), but the combined efforts of this strong cast smooth over any rough edges in the proceedings, and wring out the most from what lines they have to share with their fellow actors.  

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one other star though, a canine actor very well-behaved given the goings-on, but omitted in the playbill. Must not be a member of the union, Mr. Boodles?

Great fun, and if you’re not all that familiar with the farce style of comedy, a great introduction!

4 out of 5 stars.

I’ll link back when the official review runs!

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