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Posted: October 14, 2019

Thriller-comedy kicks off with a bang

Cranbrook Community Theatre’s latest production ‘I’ll Be Back Before Midnight’ a triumph of acting and production design

By Ferdy Belland 

Since the Second World War era, Cranbrook Community Theatre (CCT) has created a beloved culture of live performance that has enchanted and entertained thousands of local citizens – many of whom never knew how much they’d enjoy live theatre if given the chance.

National-calibre talents such as the late Bud Abbott and the great Jim Cameron have not only brought animated presence to the stage, but paid painstaking detail to striking and memorable production design – one of the many reasons why CCT has province-wide respect and admiration from theatrical production companies even existing in the urban hubbub of Vancouver and Victoria.

And this longstanding tradition of performance and production quality continues with CCT’s current production of Peter Colley’s ‘I’ll Be Back Before Midnight,’ running October 17-20, 23-26 at CCT’s venerable Studio Stage Door Theatre (the grand old Masonic Hall at 11-11th Ave. S. in downtown Cranbrook).

I’ll Be Back Before Midnight is a black-comedy psychological thriller in the classic Alfred Hitchcock tradition, and is the most-produced play ever presented in Canada. In fact, the play’s international popularity (produced in over 30 countries worldwide) has it on par with established thrillers such as Ira Levin’s Deathtrap.

The emotionally fragile Jan Sanderson (played by Kimberly Frixel) and her nebbish-archaeologist husband Greg Sanderson (performed engagingly by Matt A. Mackenzie) rent an isolated country farmhouse for Jan to recover from her recent mental breakdown in quiet and seclusion. Their new neighbour, the boisterously eccentric farmer George Willowby (played by CCT veteran Bob McCue, in one of his funniest roles), casually explains – to the Sandersons’ apparent dismay – about old murders and old ghosts who haunt the old house, which does nothing to set Jan’s nerves at ease.

Not helping the situation any is the sudden arrival of Greg’s domineering and creepily manipulative sister Laura Sanderson (sultrily played by Stephanie Kress), and that’s when things really start going screwballs. Are there truly vengeful ghosts threatening the old house, and those within? What is the truth? Only those attending the show will know for sure.

The individual performances of the actors are endearing enough for any audience, but what truly sets the tone of rising tension and fear is the sophistication of the mood lighting and sound effects (commendably designed by leading man Matt A. Mackenzie, one of Cranbrook’s true artistic wunderkinds).

Sudden drops to black, eerie lone spotlights, moaning winds, creaking doors, blasting gunshots, thunderous ghostly heartbeats – there’s been a lot of love and care invested in this performance, and the end results certainly pay off in thrills, chills, and spills.

All in all, CCT director Landon Elliot has executed an excellent and enjoyable production which will be long remembered by local theatre aficionados for years to come.

So don’t wait – get your tickets (at Huckleberry Books in Downtown Cranbrook) while you can!

Lead image: The cast of of I’ll Be Back Before Midnight. Photo Credit: Ashlee Dawn Photography 

Colour images by Colin Ferguson


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