Our January production, the two Tom Stoppard one-act plays After Magritte and The Real Inspector Hound, opened on the main stage on Friday night to a packed house. Directors Barbara Larose and Ellen Green have created a nicely book-ended evening of big, topsy-turvy fun. Moving from surreal to real in Magritte and from real to surreal in Hound, this production took the audience on one wacky, hilarious trip.
Magritte cast Andrea Brown (Thelma), Patrick Brown (Harris) – husband and wife playing husband and wife – Rob Candy (Foot), Susan Wilson (Mother) and Adrian Yearwood (Holmes) started the evening, taking us from surreal to real on a trip of varying interpretations of a citing that may or may not have been part of a crime. Off the top of the show, I don’t know what was funnier: the visual of Mother on the ironing board, Harris in full-body waders standing on a chair under the hanging lamp, Thelma in ball gown on her hands and knees searching for something and Holmes peering in through the window – or the alternating blowing and sniffing sounds Harris and Thelma were making, respectively. And it just went from there.
Hound cast Rob Candy (doing double duty in this production – Magnus), Andy Fraser (Cynthia), Richard Jones (Birdboot), Leeman Kessler (Simon), Scott Moore (Moon), Derek Perks (Hound), Brenda Somers (Mrs. Drudge) and Laura Vincent (Felicity) took us to the theatre – and a play within the play. Critics Moon and Birdboot were seated upstage centre – the set reversed from the Magritte – so the Alumnae audience had a view from backstage of The Mystery of Muldoon Manor set. We even received a separate play program for Muldoon Manor, with the fictitious actor bios written by our actors – well worth the read and highly entertaining (even Lyle, the dead guy has a bio). Hound took us from real to surreal, as the critics get more than they bargained for during their night out at the theatre. So much hilarity – including in the wings of the play within the play. (Don’t want to say more than that, as I don’t want to spoil the fun for folks who haven’t seen this.)
Hysterically funny, fine ensemble work all around. The audience had a blast.
Go-to producers Tina McCulloch (doing double duty as marketing/publicity gal) and Lynne Patterson worked with the directors to assemble the design dream team for this production: Angus Barlow (sound), Marysia Bucholc (set/scenic artist), Dave Casey (master carpenter, who also appeared in our production of Pride and Prejudice a few seasons ago), John Fleming (dialect coach), Paul Hardy (lighting), Charmaine “Trifecta of Evil” Huculak (costumes, who also costumed Hay Fever last season), Bill Scott (special effects builder) and Dorothy Wilson (props), as well as a small army of builders, painters and operators.
The reversible set is really impressive, not to mention gorgeous, especially the coffee cup floating in the clouds outside the window of After Magritte (scroll down for the sneak peek). In Magritte, I loved the Tuba Tango (composed by Richard Jones) and the hanging lamp/fruit basked pulley arrangement was really cool. For Hound: the set, costumes, lighting and sound f/x provided the perfect atmosphere for a cheesy parlour room mystery/melodrama and a great send-up of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
Holding this all together was fabuloso SM Margot “Mom” Devlin (her second show this season, back to back with Hedda Gabler), assisted by ASM Valerie Lemieux (who kindly took over for me in December so I could take care of another commitment – thanks again, Valerie!), with Valerie working while sick.
As always, great fun at the opening night reception, this time catered by Food Goddess Sandy Schneider – who got help from her friend (and new member) Bev Atkinson after catering partner Nonnie Griffin got side-lined with a broken wrist (get better soon, Nonnie) – and featuring her famous veggie trays with curry dip and guacamole. Shouts also to opening night Front of House Manager Razie Brownstone and box office gal Ilene Cummings, and bartender PJ Hammond.
You must see this show. After Magritte and The Real Inspector Hound run until Saturday, February 5 – see the Alumnae website for details and reservations: www.alumnaetheatre.com
Next up: The talkback matinée on Sunday, January 30, where the directors, designers and cast will be onstage for a Q&A after the show. In the meantime, here are a couple more production stills (by Joshua Meles – http://www.meles.ca ). Top of the page: Reginald Harris (Patrick Brown) and his wife Thelma (Andrea Brown) dance, while Mother (Susan Q Wilson) plays her beloved tuba in After Magritte. Bottom of the page: Moon (Scott Moore) and rival critic Birdboot (Richard Jones*) watch the play The Mystery of Muldoon Manor in The Real Inspector Hound.