The father Bradley (played by Rob Atkinson)

Play in Qualicum Beach opens next week

The director said the whole idea of The Cocktail Hour is that John is a playwright and wants to produce a play about the family

The ECHO Players latest production is relatable to families, says two of the leads.

The first show for the ECHO Players’s 2016/17 season is The Cocktail Hour written by A.R. Gurney and directed by Jeanne Atkinson.

Set in the mid-1970s, an aspiring playwright, John, comes home to upper New York state to visit his family.

Atkinson said the whole idea of The Cocktail Hour is that John is a playwright and wants to produce a play about the family.

“Of course, they don’t like that idea because John has been unkind at other times in his writing and dealing with the family. There’s a bit of a kerfuffle,” Atkinson said.

John’s parents Anne and Bradley and his sister Nina have a very different view of themselves, and a lively discussion ensues during the family’s customary cocktail hour.

The main conflict is between the father and son, played by Rob Atkinson and Mell Frost respectively.

Rob said it’s a father-son relationship that has been strained over the years.

“Some of this stuff is coming to a head during the cocktail hour,” Rob said. “We get mad, we scream and shout, and then we bring it back down and work the problem out and finish up as a single family unity again.”

Rob said that has been an interesting ride for him.

Aviva Fox, who plays the mother Ann, said there’s an underlying love and a wish to be part of the family.

“I think that in the end carries the day because there are a lot of harsh words spoken throughout the course of the cocktail hour that they manage to find a resolution that isn’t phoney or forced, but which is a compromise,” Fox said of the play.

Fox said that makes the play and its dialogue very realistic.

“He (A.R. Gurney) seems to capture the nuance of language and the way people speak to each other,” Fox said. “I think the result of that is something that’s a little more natural and less stilted than a lot of the conversation that happens in plays.”

Many of Gurney’s plays focused on the upper-class in contemporary America. The Cocktail Hour is a comedy of manners which satirizes the manners and behaviours of a social class.

Rob said people will identify with the realness of the play.

“That same conversation could easily be happening in any house or several houses up and down the street from here,” he said.

Because of that, Fox said you wouldn’t call The Cocktail Hour a play of action.

“Only lifting the glass,” Fox said. “That’s about as much action as we see.”

The Cocktail Hour opens Oct. 13 and runs at The Village Theatre (110 Second Ave., Qualicum Beach) until Oct. 30. Evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.

Tickets for The Cocktail Hour are now on sale at the Village Theatre. The box office is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sundays from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and performance nights from 6 to 7:30 p.m. or call 250-752-3522.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors (65 years and older), $11 for students (with a valid student card) and $16 per person for groups of 10 or more.

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