Collin Doyle’s Slumberland Motel is at Script Salon this weekend

playwright Collin Doyle

playwright Collin Doyle

By Liz Nicholls,

He’s back. Theatres (and audiences) take note. 

If you saw Collin Doyle’s wonderful Let The Light Of Day Through, in Theatre Network’s top-drawer 2013 premiere production, you already know something important about the work of this award-winning playwright. It’s funny. And it’s moving. At the same time, and in a complex and startling way.

“People look at dark stuff more easily through comedy,” Doyle has said.

The Doyle play that gets a staged reading Sunday at Script Salon (an Edmonton theatre success story in itself), has all the signs of that signature combination. Slumberland Motel, billed as “a road-weary comedy,” gives us two ‘70s era underachievers, a couple of vacuum salesman,  Ed and Edward, sharing a room in a seedy roadside motel on Christmas Eve. Their flat landscape of disappointment and disillusion, a world of diminishing prospects — vacuum sales can suck — is transformed by the arrival of a mysterious woman from the next room.

I think we can safely call Slumberland Motel “long-awaited,” a term that applies to many of Doyle’s plays. It won the Alberta Playwriting Competition 11 years ago. Long lead times seem to be a Doyle specialty, a test of patience that would have made other artists implode. Doyle’s The Mighty Carlins, the raucous black comedy of family dysfunction which won the Alberta Playwriting Competition in 2004, was the most famous un-produced play in Alberta, before its Workshop West premiere four years later.

For Sunday’s reading, Robert Benz and Reed McColm are Ed and Edward, with April Banigan as the mystery woman. It happens in the Upper Arts Space at Holy Trinity Anglican Church (10037 84 Avenue) at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free; donations are welcome.

The genial playwright will be on hand to answer questions. I have one: when will it get fully produced by an Edmonton theatre? A Doyle play is always an event. And that long lead time business can wear thin.


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