There are very few two-word phrases that instantly bring to mind a flood of memories, both good and bad, warm and terrifying, as “family dinner.”
Because of this, the dinner table has always been a rich source of material for playwrights. Always tricky to stage (how do you let an audience see what’s going on in the centre of a tight square of people?) it nonetheless has made its way into many Ruby Slippers shows over the years. And Ruby Slippers takes it one step further – anyone who saw The Cat Who Ate Her Husband remembers their mouth watering as hamburger hash (it was actually veggie, but who knew?) liberally doused with Lowry’s seasoning salt was fried onstage. Or the family in The View From Above tucking in to a Sunday dinner of roast human leg!
And with the stories of food onstage, there are always the mishaps. Food cooked too long before the performance gets cold. Canned peas are never exactly gourmet. Actors eating the same food night after night and having to finish their 9pm dinner in five minutes flat. But the best story I have heard comes from Trout Stanley’s exploding pot roast….
Every night Colleen Wheeler’s character came in with shotgun crazily waving all over the room. The shotgun goes off, plaster explodes, and as the dust settles we realize the pot roast has been shot! Well this tricky maneuver was invented by the Technical Director and was made up of a “good” pot roast attached to one side of a counter panel, and the “exploded” one on the other side. Timed perfectly with a sound cue and powder-explosion special effect, the counter panel would flip and by the time the dust settled, the good roast had been replaced by the exploded one. Except on one night a malfunction led this perfectly-timed symphony to be replaced by three solos – sound effect……pot roast flip……..plaster flying. The audience watched each element in succession, totally spoiling the magical effect. But that’s the beauty of live theatre – the actors made a joke, the audience laughed along with them, and the show went on!
Ruby Slippers newest offering, Life Savers, is no different in the food department. Meatloaf, pineapple upside down cake, ham sandwich – it is a veritable feast! And who knows what excitement might come of it? You will have to check it out for yourself. It is live theatre, after all….
Coming soon…actor Patti Allan (who plays Raymonde, the matriarch of “Life Savers”)’s personal meatlof recipe!