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Funny play has serious message

As the comedy portion of Strange Bedfellows, An Unmarked Door will give the audience a chance to laugh a little before they go home after the more serious subject matter and tone of Over Coffee. In this rehearsal of An Unmarked Door from left to right are Jean Graham, Doug Boyce (background), Michelle Clemens, and Brenda Hynes. Submitted photo

By Chad Feehan / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Strange Bedfellows is a double feature production consisting of two one-act plays of very different subject matter and tone.

The play is produced by the St. John’s Players, Cool Pond Productions and Moonchild & Me, and includes actors from throughout the region, including CBS.

Over Coffee, a drama written and directed by Patrick De Moss, is the first feature on the bill. Described as “lyrical” and “raw” in the show program, it explores the life of four strangers who happen to be sitting in a Montreal coffee shop one rainy afternoon.

After this examination of both loneliness and coming together, the audience will be treated to more than a few chuckles in the form of An Unmarked Door, a comedy written by Cullam Bruce-Luckhart and directed by Annalise Smith.

An Unmarked Door deals with Greta, a recently widowed woman who decides to take control of her life in part by shaking off her religious sensibilities after the death of her husband.

CBS resident Brenda Hynes plays Karen, the main antagonist of the play. Karen tries to keep Greta on the straight and narrow religious life, despite what Greta’s instincts are telling her.

“My character is the one people won’t like,” said Hynes. “She’s not a nice person… the type of person that sucks the air out of the room.”

For Hynes, it is fun to play a character that is the opposite of what her own personality is really like, considering herself a generally considerate person.

Although the play’s central arc centres around death and self-discovery, Hynes said these themes are conveyed in a funny way.

“It’s not a downer at all,” she said. “It’s about her and what her life is going to look like now, and how she decides it’s going to look like is funny.”

Michelle Clemens, who lives in St. John’s but lived in CBS for 15 years, takes on the role of Greta.

Clemens said people of all ages can relate to this role of a woman in transition letting go of previous identities and societal expectations.

“We allow sometimes the roles we have in our life to dominate who we are as a person,” she said. “It’s never too late to reach out and grab the life that you want.”

Regarding comedies as an often misunderstood and dismissed art form, Clemens feels they carry a “double duty” of delivering meaning in humorous ways.

“They have a serious message but they do it in a way that makes us laugh and allows us to laugh about that reflection,” she said.

Strange Bedfellows runs until Saturday at the Barbara Barrett Theatre in St. John’s.

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