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Mayfield's Henry & Alice light fare for the summer season

Henry & Alice into the Wild: A pleasant walk through the woods Lucy Haines The latest offering from the Mayfield Dinner Theatre is like a live-action sitcom - with plenty of worn stereotypes about middle age and marriage - this time set against the s
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Henry & Alice into the Wild: A pleasant walk through the woods Lucy Haines

The latest offering from the Mayfield Dinner Theatre is like a live-action sitcom - with plenty of worn stereotypes about middle age and marriage - this time set against the serene backdrop of a lakeside campground. In fact, Lisa Hancharek's set offers enough realistic-looking trees, bushes and faux camp fire heat that you might find yourself swatting bugs while you watch.

In Henry & Alice into the Wild (running through July 31, the frazzled, middle-aged Henry has lost his job and sense of identity. With money worries at the fore, Henry is irritated by Alice's luxury-loving ways, her suitcase on wheels and pillows from Pottery Barn: a nature gal she is not. Alice tries to convince Henry (and herself) that she's alright with having to change all her plans and dreams for retirement.

If Alice's anger is bottled up (evidenced by her efforts to start a fire, unzip a sleeping bag or read from the 'Camping for Dummies' handbook), Henry's seeps out by moaning about tent poles that don't fit together or the loud music coming from a neighbouring campsite. Once Alice's younger sister Diana shows up unexpectedly - every leather-clad, hog-riding and tattooed bit of her - the stage is set for Henry and Alice to face all their mid-life issues: caring for an aging father and pot-smoking son; their roles in the marriage and dreams gone unfulfilled.

Glenn Nelson is well-cast as Henry, exuding the grumpy and world-weary demeanor of a man who has been beaten down by life. His mussed-up hair and hunched shoulders tell the same story. It's that way for Coralie Cairns' Alice too, who hops about with the frenetic energy of a lost woman that doesn't know which way to turn. Cairns' solo atop the parked motorcycle is a fun 'I need to be free' moment.

Both these Mayfield vets and long-time Edmonton performers bring an earnest dedication and sense of fun to the stage, providing believable moments despite the clich├ęd themes. Diana, played with bawdy delight by Mayfield favorite Cathy Derkach, gets to have the most fun of the bunch as a free-spirited 50-something prone to skinny dipping and flirting with the RV guy next door.

Henry & Alice into the Wild is just the kind of light, frothy fare the Mayfield likes to serve up for a summer show, and there's nothing new in Michele Riml's story - a sequel to Sexy Laundry, which played the Mayfield a few years back. Director John Hudson takes his able cast on a familiar journey, so while there isn't anything fresh or laugh-out-loud funny in the material, it's a pleasant enough two-hour journey into the woods.

And it's dinner theatre, after all, so it's hard to leave with anything other than a knowing smile and a full belly.

Henry & Alice into the Wild runs through July 31 at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre, located at the Doubletree by Hilton in West Edmonton.