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Review: The Dangers of VD (Valentine's Day) a crowd hit

St. Albert Dinner Theatre's comedic take on romance and sex whips up a rousing good time
The full cast of The Dangers of VD (Valentine's Day) pose after a successful opening weekend. The St. Albert Dinner Theatre cast is (backrow) Christoper Thrall, Stuart McGowan, Christine Gold and Laurie Borle. Seate is Joanne Poplett and crouching is Cruystal Poniewozik. DONNA BEESTON/Photo

Calmar playwright Chris McKerracher is a relatively unknown playwright in these parts. However, after St. Albert Dinner Theatre’s (SADT) debut performance of The Dangers of VD (Valentine’s Day) last week, it’s time for regional thespians to pay attention. McKerracher has a knack for setting up string of jokes and delivering swift unexpected punch lines that leaves the audience in stitches throughout the two-act. 

Although the title is catchy and hints at possible X-rated scenes, the comedy focuses on the universal theme of love and the role sex plays in relationships. Luckily, the production never falls into a preachy trap. The snappy dialogue, and a few risqué and lecherous scenes create a light, breezy vibe that carries throughout the 90-minute show. 

The six-character production showcases a family at different stages in life. Mildred Dyck as Gram still loves her cranky, old husband even though he exasperates her. But since becoming impotent, George is more in tune with the TV remote than her needs. 

Their daughter-in-law, Paulette, is frustrated with Henry, a cold-fish husband who rebuffs her every move even when she strolls into the bedroom wearing slinky negligees and seductive perfumes. Initially it is difficult to understand why she fell in love with Henry. He is an accountant who comes across as a tight-fisted human computer only concerned with crunching numbers. 

Their daughter, Jacqui, is a young drama queen testing the relationship waters with her new crush, a brawny hunk. Providing advice is Aunt Jean, a rich, sexy divorcée who was married and divorced five times. She’s got the right bait and can reel them in. But keeping her catch is a different story. 

Joanne Poplett and Stuart McGowan, both veterans of SADT, are smartly cast as Gran and Gramps and the chemistry is undeniable. They play off each other’s strengths and create two likeable characters remind us of our own families and neighbours. 

Poplett’s Mildred is by turns affectionate and irritated with her hubby while McGowan’s Gramps hides a sensual spirit underneath a crotchety personality. - especially after he accidentally downing a cocktail spiked with Viagra. 

Paulette’s life smacks of desperation – the desperation of a woman wondering if her husband still loves her. Laurie Borle as Paulette picks up on all those insecurities and relays a fragility that makes her character believable, frantic, humorous and ultimately sympathetic. 

Christopher Thrall as Henry was last seen in SADT’s season opener, Wrong Window, as a loudmouth husband suspected of killing his wife. As Henry, Thralls delivers a surprising low-key performance of a man so deeply in love with his wife, he is unable to express the emotions swirling within.  

Christine Gold as Aunt Jean turns on the charm as a provocative and sensuous woman with a tart tongue who does not suffer fools easily. Dressed in a scarlet red and gold floor-length dress, Gold steals the spotlight whenever she sashays on stage. 

And Crystal Poniewozik, as Jacqui, is the epitome of a silly young woman who can’t be away from her cellphone in case she misses a text from a heartthrob. But by the play’s end, Jacqui realizes sincerity is the soil in which love grows. Without sincerity, love remains stunted.

McKerracher wrote a script overflowing with humour, and this sextet brings the jokes to life nailing each one. While actors are instrumental in breathing life into words, directors can make or break a production. 

In this case, director Mark McGarrigle delivered one of SADT's most robust shows. McGarrigle, who co-founded SADT, has spent several decades as an actor, director and a musician. As a creative professional, his intuitive, unvarnished experience is evident in the script’s interpretation, the production’s pacing, the characters’ actions and collaborative blocking.  

The Dangers of VD is one to mark on your calendar. The show runs Feb. 16 to 18 and Feb. 23 to 25 at the Kinsmen Banquet Hall, 47 Riel Dr. Single tickets are $65. Visit or call 780-222-0102.    

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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