Lunchbox Theatre presents Power Lunch by Alan Ball through Oct. 10. Tickets: Call 403-265-4292. – - – - out of five
In Lunchbox Theatre’s fast-paced but loud season opener, a run-of-the-mill slightly egotistical guy and a vaguely unstable woman have no sooner met than they fall into an endless round of parry-and-thrust over familiar issues of sex, gender, and relationships.
At least, that’s one way of describing Alan Ball’s comedy Power Lunch, where two upwardly mobile types (winningly portrayed by Curt McKinstry and Jamie Konchak) virtually stumble over one other in their eagerness to get off the treadmill of their loveless, superficial lives if only to score big in what amounts to an updated version of the age-old battle of the sexes.
The manoeuvring for one-upmanship in their say-what-you-mean-but-don’tmean-what-you-say (and vice versa) game of repartee is further embellished with a little trans-gender elucidation (or not) from a man who says he’s a woman, and a woman who says she’s not –a waiter and a waitress, played with nutty androgyny and a kind of comic stoicism, respectively, by Frank Zotter and Cheryl Hutton.
As you’d expect from the author of the quirky hit TV series Six Feet Under, not to mention the Academy Award-winning screenplay for American Beauty, there’s lots of incisive punch in Power Lunch, whose bill of fodder runs an exhaustingly comprehensive gamut of everything from rampant consumerism (McKinstry’s character initially boasts a Porsche, for example, but eventually mumbles up to owning a Corolla), to homophobia, the cliches of soft porn, and the bodice-ripping female idealism that pervades the genre of cheap romances.
Under Rona Waddington’s direction, the four cast members of Power Lunch never flag in bringing out the funny best in their respective characters.
Sure, they verbally duke it out through some pretty dense territory that offers nothing new, perhaps, in the way of insight, but it’s hardly fluff, either–and besides it’s just engaging good fun to watch and try to keep up with accomplished performers having fun themselves with their characters, as they dance with and around each other across the Lunchbox stage.
Once again, as in other Lunchbox outings, the comic appeal and subtle timing of a McKinstry performance is everywhere apparent– here, as the guy who knows all the moves but then isn’t so sure why he bothered to make them. Evident too is Konchak’s remarkable ability to quickly change emotional gears without sacrificing any of the momentum built in conveying a young woman who may know where her true heart lies, but can’t seem to let herself go near enough to get in touch with it.