Thunder River closes out season with big laughs |

Thunder River closes out season with big laughs

Mrs. Van Nostrand (Lisa Langer) summons her husband (Bob Moore) with a bell and demands tea. He nervously and hilariously responds with, "Yes, dear," in Thunder River Theatre's production of "Red Herring."
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |

If You Go...

What: ‘Red Herring’

When: 7:30 p.m. June 19, 20, 26, 27, July 2-4; 2 p.m. June 28

Where: Thunder River Theatre

How Much: $25 for adults, $17 for 20-30-something young adults, $14 for full-time students. Tickets are available at

You may not expect it, but love in the time of the Cold War can be pretty hilarious.

“Red Herring,” the noir spy spoof that’s closing out Thunder River Theatre Company’s (TRTC) 20th anniversary season, offers the perfect opportunity to start your summer off right — with lots of laughs.

“Come see the show if you want to laugh,” said director Wendy Moore. “It’s not dark; it’s funny. So if you’re coming for a screaming message, there’s no screaming message.”

The play takes place during a very specific weekend: Oct. 29 through Nov. 4, 1952, the height of the Joe McCarthy Communist trials. It follows groups of characters that are all somehow connected by the end — from the daughter of McCarthy himself to an FBI agent to a Jewish spy for the Soviets.

Moore said the humor of the show is timeless, and the tone of suspicion is still relevant even 60 years after the fact.

“It’s a bit of a spoof on spies,” she said. “Everybody is suspicious of everybody else. We’re not that far past the Cold War, and aren’t we just a little suspicious of anyone who looks different than we do?”

Aside from the great comedy when the lights are up, “Red Herring” is actually hilarious even during scene changes, when the pier set piece turns into a storage unit for props which are placed and replaced by cast members sneaking around the stage in full spy mode. The laughs truly never stop in this production.

One of the more challenging aspects of the play rests on the shoulders of the actors, almost all of whom play different characters.

“They’re running around, changing costumes and becoming entirely different people,” Moore said. “Bob [Moore] plays one character that says two words: ‘Yes, dear.’ That’s all he says. I think people would be intrigued by the construction of the play. Things are coming out from underneath the pier, and people are changing from one character to another.”

TRTC’s founder and executive director Lon Winston said he wanted the 20th anniversary season to be eclectic, so a comedy was the perfect way to close out the year.

“I wanted to come up with something that was fun, poignant, full of laughs to end the season after doing ‘Hamlet,’” Winston said.

He added that it feels a little surreal wrapping up his 20th season with the Carbondale theater he started.

“It’s pretty landmark,” he said. “Who ever thought it would just keep going and going, and we’d be the entity that we are in the Roaring Fork Valley? I think that’s pretty in credible. I want it to be Thunder River Theatre Company for another 50 years and beyond.”

But for now, Moore and Winston just hope “Red Herring” entertains over the course of its run. The play touches on the issue of paranoia, a relevant topic in post-9/11 America, but the point isn’t to make a statement. The point is to make you laugh.

“It’s just silly, silly fun,” Moore said. “I think that’s what people would like about it.”

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