Taking risks is nothing new for Theatre Inconnu, but director Graham McDonald is stepping into the chaotic arena of farce with his take on The Walworth Farce.
“It’s like nothing else I’ve read or tried to do,” says McDonald. “Taking something old and traditional like farce and making it new . . . is a real challenge. I’m trying to get as close to a farce as possible. The comedy, the pace, the repetition — it just builds and builds and either it pays off or not — that’s what keeps people in the story and what makes the jokes work.”
McDonald cast Theatre Inconnu’s artistic director, Clayton Jevne, in the role of Dinny, an exiled Irishman who has kept his two sons captive in their run-down flat in London.
“It’s been almost three years since Clayton and I have worked on a full-scale production together,” says McDonald. “He’s such an incredible actor and it’s amazing when he gets together with other actors, he has such incredible skills.”
In the play, son Sean (played by UVic grad Graham Miles) goes out into the world every morning to retrieve props for the family’s daily theatrical performance about their father’s exile. He’s the only one of the three that has any contact with the outside world. The other son, Blake (played by James Rooney, who also created the show’s poster) hasn’t been out of the flat in more than 15 years.
“The heightened reality is so bizarre,” says McDonald. “That he would succeed in doing that is pretty amazing. The characters feel real, even though it’s not possible for this to be happening in the real world.”
From the show description: “It’s 11 o’clock in the morning in a council flat on the Walworth Road. In two hours’ time, as is normal, three Irish men will have consumed six cans of Harp, 15 crackers with spreadable cheese and one oven-cooked chicken with a strange blue sauce. In two hours’ time, as is normal, five people will have been killed. Direct from a critically acclaimed run in New York, this remarkable play by Enda Walsh delivers an achingly tender insight into what happens when we become stuck in the stories we tell ourselves about our lives.”
“It’s absolutely nuts,” says McDonald. “They do this farce, which to them seems natural. It’s supposed to be a healing process for them, but when things are supposed to start getting normal, that’s when it really gets weird.”
In true farcical fashion, a doorbell rings and an outside character is introduced. That’s when things really start going off the rails.
“When the doorbell goes off, the stakes are raised and it gets harder and harder to keep things straight,” says McDonald.
Elizabeth Marsh is playing the role of the outsider who works at a local grocery store.
Sean and Blake take on multiple characters in the play-within-a-play, one of which has Miles shaving a cul-de-sac into his hair to play.
The characters enter and exit from two wardrobes on either side of the main door in the set, designed by Michelle Ning Lo, with lighting by Patricia Reilly and costumes by Staci Sten.
Watch for McDonald’s mini-play Jimmy 1986 at Theatre SKAM’s Bike Ride, June 16 to 17 and 23 to 24 at Cecelia Ravine park. M
The Walworth Farce
Opens Friday, June 1
at 8pm. Tickets $14 regular/$10 students, seniors and unwaged, $7 preview (May31).
ticketrocket.org, 250-360-0234 or at the door (1923 Fernwood).