CLASSIC SHOW - Red Deer College theatre studies students (Cameron Freitas, Aimbree Lauren, Brett Nixon and Alexandra Creedon) rehearse a scene from their upcoming show Major Barbara, which runs through to Feb. 17th on the Arts Centre mainstage. Janessa Barron photo

Red Deer College theatre students stage Major Barbara

The production runs through to Feb. 17th at the Arts Centre

If you love period theatre that explores differing ways society at the time looked at subjects like religion, social conscience and obligation for starters, Red Deer College’s Major Barbara might be worth a look.

The show runs through to Feb. 17th with curtain at 7:30 p.m. on the Arts Centre’s mainstage.

Weekend matinees run Feb. 10th and 17th at 1 p.m. as well.

Penned by George Bernard Shaw, the story – masterfully directed by Thomas Usher – follows Barbara – a major in the Salvation Army in the east end of London – who works to save lives and souls by helping the poor and confronting social injustice.

Barbara (played to perfection by Alex Creedon) is level-headed, dedicated, utterly calm in the face of adversity – the ideal major in the Army which had really only just started up not much earlier in that poverty-stricken part of the sprawling metropolis.

Meanwhile, Andrew Undershaft (James Walker), her fabulously wealthy father and arms industrialist, is looking to acquire an heir.

Barbara and her father look at things in completely different ways, but they learn to understand each other as the play unfolds. It ends in a rather surprising way – there is a resolution of sorts – but perhaps not what one might have expected.

Each visits the other’s place of work and mission. And each learns more about how the other one ticks.

It’s a lengthy show and incredibly wordy – usually not the greatest attributes for a crowd-pleasing play.

But in this context, it mostly works. I felt like I was learning quite a bit as the dialogue unfolded thanks to Shaw’s insights about society at the time, and the cast kept the pace moving along nicely.

There were a couple of scenes that, in my opinion, could have been trimmed just to make things tighter and briefer, but again it wasn’t boring.

There are things that we can relate to today – caring for the poor in society for one.

What’s the best, most practical, most effective way of doing that? Where do one’s spiritual beliefs fit into that – how can they fuel what needs to be done, and precisely where in a particular place it needs to be done?

Barbara learns that her efforts can be applied in other contexts – and I’ll leave the intricacies of the plot at that. It’s food for thought – maybe unsettling to some – but challenging nonetheless.

As for the look of the play (set and costumes), Carrie Hamilton has done a terrific job (again) of putting together a versatile set and array of costumes that fit perfectly with what’s going on at any given moment.

And as mentioned, the performances are strong – from the aformentioned Creedon and Walker to Aimbree Lauren as the steely, determined Lady Britomart Undershaft and Barbara’s brother Stephen, played with aristocratic pomp and severity by Brett Nixon.

Jennifer Engler and Jared Baker bring lots of spirit and energy to their roles of Rummy and Snobby respectively – a couple of down-on-their-luck folks who find help at Barbara’s mission. Jayden Baldry is also outstanding as Bill Walker, a furious and deeply troubled man who stirs up a whirlwind of danger and trouble at the mission site.

As mentioned, Walker is exceptional as the patriarch Andrew – he captures this man’s unabashed take on the material world perfectly.

Andrew is deeply practical and primarily all about the ‘here and now’. But he’s also a likeable fellow, who seems to have a heart just the same. Walker nails his complexities really well – from anger to humour to his efforts to empathize.

A few local Salvationists are also taking part in the production, including Major Larry Bridger of the Red Deer Salvation Army church.

Major Barbara originally premiered in 1905. That’s worth remembering, as it likely reflects the theatrical styles of the time – lots of dialogue, for one. In our whirlwind pace these days, it can be tough to slow down and really absorb the messages and historical richness of a play like this. But I think it’s worth it.

Kudos to the students for not just exemplary memory work, but for largely hitting the dialect as well.

Tickets are available through Black Knight Ticket Centre – visit www.blackknightinn.ca.

Just Posted

WCPS uses cannabis legislation to fully review drug, alcohol and tobacco policies

Cannabis is not permitted in schools; WCPS focused on providing education and support

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

Alberta readies itself for cannabis sales with 17 stores (for now) and a new provincial website

Lacombe Mayor Creasey says enforcement of cannabis bylaws dependant upon adherence

Recreational cannabis becomes legal this week in Canada

UPDATE: Lacombe Generals split weekend games after losing in Stony Plain

Lacombe shows off offensive repertoire against Ft. Sask; comes up just short against the Eagles

Darrell Paulovich remembered after accident claims his life

A tragic accident claimed the life of a rodeo advocate over the weekend

WATCH: Ground-breaking ceromony held for Charis Village Seniors Housing project

$22 million development will include 10 duplexes and 46-unit complex

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

After 50 years, ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird puppeteer retiring

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Britain, EU decide to take some time in getting Brexit right

Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said “we need much time, much more time and we continue to work in the next weeks.”

Parole denied for convicted killer-rapist Paul Bernardo after 25 years in prison

Paul Bernardo plead for release on Wednesday by arguing he has done what he could to improve himself during his 25 years in prison.

B.C. Lions look to cement CFL playoff spot with victory over Eskimos

B.C. can cement a post-season berth in the wild West Division on Friday night with a home win over the Edmonton Eskimos

Canada ban on asbestos takes effect but mining residues are exempt

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna plans to announce the new regulations implementing the ban on Thursday in Ottawa

UPDATE: Aurora Rafer has been found unharmed

RCMP have a man in custody and continue to investigate

Most Read