Opening Night Review of Henry and Alice: Into the Wild

Sexy Laundry’s Sequel Hits Coquitlam

Camping is the perfect thing to do to get away from it all. No traffic, no city noises, no luxuries. Some love it while others avoid it like the plague. So when you throw into the woods a guy named Henry, who wants to run away from it all and his wife Alice, who wants to stay stationary in her life of luxury it’s sure to garner up some laughs. Playwright Michele Riml envisioned just that while she was camping with a friend in Osoyoos and experiencing the challenges that went along with it. In that moment, Henry and Alice popped into her head and a sequel to her smash hit, Sexy Laundry, was born: Henry and Alice: Into the Wild.

If you didn’t meet Henry and Alice in Sexy Laundry, they were going through a mid-life crisis and thought they could spice things up at a luxury hotel. They survived that bump in the road but Riml has now thrown them into the wild as they experience life’s uncertainties all while trying to survive the trials of a less-than-luxury vacation in the woods.

Henry and Alice:  Into the Wild  Photos courtesy of Evergreen Cultural Centre

Henry and Alice: Into the Wild
Photos courtesy of Evergreen Cultural Centre

Tuesday Pre-Show Chats at Evergreen

Coquitlam’s Evergreen Cultural Centre was a kind host to me on Tuesday evening when I attended the opening night of Henry and Alice: Into the Wild. Evergreen launched a new program this season called Tuesday Pre-Show Chat that is free and is part of Evergreen’s Theatre Series this season.  It’s an opportunity to take part in entertaining topics related to the play, prior to the performance. On Tuesday, playwright Michelle Riml was in attendance for the Pre-Show Chat.

I specifically arrived early for the 7:00pm chat but even knowing that it was happening, I nearly missed it. Thinking it was in the lobby, I patiently waited there, only to realize that there is a lower lobby down a set of stairs near the back end of the main lobby. Nobody directed me or mentioned to me about the chat and its location when I arrived. Had I not actively been looking for the event, I would have missed it altogether as others did, having overheard people’s surprised responses when they found out about the chat after-the-fact. It would have been a shame to miss it too. Riml gave a candid look into the play and the process of getting it to the stage. I think that getting a “backstage” pass into the creation of the play gave me a more well-rounded theatre experience and even made me a little attached to the play before even watching it. It was interesting and insightful.

Henry, Alice and her Crazy Sister Diana

The play itself was dramatically fun.  The characters played well off each other, balancing fear and optimism nicely between them as they each faced an unknown future.  Henry and Alice, played by Andrew Wheeler and Beatrice Zeilinger, gave a believable performance of a bickering, sarcastic couple camping in the woods as they deal with Henry’s job loss back home.  During the chat, Riml said that they had to rework the play during rehearsals to get the timing of the dialogue and the task of setting up the tent to flow nicely.  Setting up camp is often a task in itself without having to remember dialogue, yet they did it seamlessly on stage.

Riml, not yet in her 50s, was questioned how she could write about characters dealing with a mid-life crisis.  She explained that she would reflect about fights that she had with her husband and project it.  She found that many problems that couples face are universal which may be why many people can relate to Henry and Alice in some way, no matter what age they are.

And if you can’t relate to Henry or Alice, then maybe you can relate to Alice’s carefree sister Diana, played by Deborah Williams.  Her crazy character stole the show and gave life back into it when Henry and Alice where going to too dark a place.   She kept the mood light and enjoyable and was a treat to watch.

Henry & Alice: Into the Wild will be the second to last installment of Evergreen Cultural Centre’s Theatre Series for their 2012/13 season.  It runs until February 2, 2013. Tickets are $39 for Adults, $30 for Seniors (65+) and $15 for Students.

Evergreen Cultural Centre

1205 Pinetree Way Coquitlam

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