Story & photos by Gretchen Ammerman
For the TODAY
Once upon a time, playing games with friends required being in the same room with them, maps didn’t need a power source, and people had attention spans that weren’t as short as Lincoln City’s record-holding D River. For better or worse, rapid changes in technology have changed the way we shop, the way we learn, and especially the way we communicate. “For Better,” a new comedy by Eric Coble presented by the cast and crew of Theatre West, explores the sillier aspects of the internet age.
The play tells the story of a woman named Karen, played by Theatre West newcomer Tylene Cool, who tries to plan then ultimately carry out her wedding remotely as she and her fiancé have jobs that are keeping them apart. Handheld devices act as critical props in the run up to the wedding — and even during the ceremony itself.
“It’s very relatable because at some point everyone has to manage a relationship over short or long distances,” said director Danielle Ryan, whose previous Theatre West directorial credits include “Love, Loss and What I Wore” and “I Hate Hamlet.”
“Part of the humor is what gets lost sometimes,” Ryan added. “The play also tackles family relationships and how different generations relate in the modern world, like the dad, who is afraid of technology.”
The role of the father, Wally, is being played by George Weber, who recently appeared in the Theatre West production of “The Odd Couple.” Paul McCully, who plays Stuart, is the only other performer with Theatre West credits — he appeared in last year’s production of “Calendar Girls.”
“Though most of the cast has theater experience they are brand new to our company,” Ryan said. “We tried to put this on once before but we just couldn’t cast it. It was just luck that I suddenly had new people to work with this time that just happened to fit what the roles called for.”
Cool, who is new to the Oregon Coast, was involved in community theatre in Pendleton and while she was in college in California, then started a community-based theatre company in England. Once she was settled in Lincoln City, she started looking for local theater to be involved with and found Theatre West. “I was ready to audition for whatever play was available but was glad it turned out to be this one,” she said. “I was really excited because it’s so modern compared to what I was used to doing, Shakespeare, for example. Social media is my reality, plus the play is very quick and funny.”
The other new blood includes Lauren Hahn as Lizzie, David Piper as Michael and Colette Buchanan as Francine.
The young play will be performed in the newish (for the theater company) venue of the Lincoln City Cultural Center, which Ryan says is quite fitting.
“Because of the kind of show it is, it will play better at the cultural center,” she said. “We needed a bit more space, and ironically, the technology is more advanced here.”
“For Better” runs through Jan. 27, with performances at 7:30 pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and a 2 pm matinée on Sunday, Jan. 21.
Reservations can be made through the Lincoln City Cultural Center by calling 541-994-9994 or online at www.lincolncity-culturalcenter.org.
Tickets for the show are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors (60 and over) and for students (over 12) and $10 for children 12 & under. A special group discount is available at $12 per ticket for groups of 10 or more with a pre-paid reservation. Season tickets (five shows for two people) are available for $120.
More information about the theater can be found at www.theatrewest.com or by calling 541-994-5663. The Lincoln City Cultural Center is located at 540 NE Hwy. 101.