Ryan Mooney

Shakespeare for laughs

Three actors attempt to cover all 37 of the Bard's plays at Coast Capital Playhouse

Call it Bard on the Beachhead.

Three very disparate personalities, armed only with a handful of props and costumes, must hit the ground – a daunting stack of 37 plays – running, with just over an hour-and-a-half to cover them all in.

That’s the insane premise of The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged; Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield’s frontal assault on the words of Stratford on Avon’s most famous son.

The result is less about adapting and more about wild comedic trampling in this   summer presentation of Fighting Chance Productions and White Rock Players Club, running Aug. 6-23 at Coast Capital Playhouse.

Directed by Julie Casselman, the show features Fighting Chance and WRPC artistic director Ryan Mooney, with fellow actors Tom Gage (last seen at Coast Capital in WRPC’s The Crucible) and Christopher Nash.

For the actors, it’s not just a chance for crazy comedy – they also get to have fun playing caricatures of their own personalities.

“We’re using our own names,” said Mooney. “You can play it with character names, but it seems kind of weird introducing yourself to the audience as someone else.”

In his case, he said, he’s spoofing any assumption that he’s someone with a big ego (“I like to think it’s a pose,” he laughed).

“My character tries to take everything very seriously,” he said. “I end up playing a lot of the women’s roles. That can be played grudgingly – but I think if you play it really seriously, that can be funnier.”

A lot of comedy derives from his conflicts with Gage’s character, the “de facto ringleader,” he said.

“He’s the one who’s really trying to keep things moving, where my character gets off  track and has a number of different moments.

“Chris is the down-to-earth one – he doesn’t comment the way my character does, but he doesn’t try to steam through things the way Tom is doing.”

Mooney said he’s really enjoying working with his co-stars.

“We’re having a great time. All three of us are really different in our comedy styles and this allows us to go really over the top.

“I met Tom, as a director, when he was playing Rev. Hale in The Crucible. That was a very serious role, but Tom’s also a wonderful, wonderful comedian – one of the funniest people I’ve ever known.”

Gage was instrumental in finding Nash to make up the trio, he added.

“Chris is very talented and he loves doing stage – he did theatre at Trinity Western. He and I have a great rapport.”

All-in-all, he said, the show has come together really well and really quickly – with a lot of help from Players Club volunteers and others who have done the show before and were able to supply props and costumes.

“We’ve done musicals in the summer for the last few years, but the problem with that is that everyone is taking a break and it’s hard to get a cast and crew together.

“This seemed simple enough, rehearsing only three people – and it’s a fun show.”

Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees Aug. 9 and 16.

For tickets ($20, $18 students and Coast Capital members), call 604-536-7535 or visit www.whiterockplayers.ca


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