Hey kids – busy times for bloggergal these days, covering New Ideas and an upcoming GuineaPigging read-through, and what with the whole day job/life thing goin’ on. Long story short, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it out to see the Irish Players’ production of The Hunt for Red Willie – and, if I do, it won’t be till the end of the run. As luck would have it, back-up/guest blogger Tina McCulloch saw Red Willie on Saturday night, so I asked her to share her thoughts. Here’s what she had to say:
Guest blogger reporting in…
Had been intending to go see the Toronto Irish Players’ production of The Hunt for Red Willie, so when I bumped into Alumnae Theatre’s house tech, Angus Barlow last Friday night (February 18), and he told me about a funny special effect he’d rigged for the show, that convinced me.
So I went on Saturday night (Feb 19), and was lucky enough to sit beside the director, Alan Hunt. Not knowing anything about the play or its author, Ken Bourke, I was prepared for the Irish version of a comedy: laugh a little, cry a little. Alan gave the pre-show “turn off your cell phones” speech, and also reminded the audience that they were “allowed to laugh at the naughty bits.” Hmm. That, coupled with his Director’s Notes in the program – “…if you’re looking for an intelligent exploration of the issues of the time [Donegal, 1830], I highly recommend the library” – gave me a clue as to what was to come.
And it was nothing like any previous Toronto Irish Players shows I’ve seen. Lots of laughs, no tears at all! Red Willie was fast-moving, flat-out farce, with many double entendres and much sexual innuendo. Bloggergal’s musing about the significance of the title was well founded! As cast member Steve Flett mentioned, each of the six actors plays two characters – and as it happens, one is Irish and one English. Steve himself is the bumbling English army sergeant Tanner, and a hot-blooded Irish rogue nicknamed Q-Pat the Ram. Yes, he does explain how his father acquired the name. And it’s Sgt. Tanner who makes use of that special effect in Act I. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a good ‘un. Was very impressed with the speedy costume changes, and the actors’ effortless change of characters.
I was intrigued to read in the playwright’s program bio that his most recent play is titled Buck Jones and the Body Snatchers. Buck Jones is one of the characters in The Hunt for Red Willie – a lovable souse, played here by Toronto Irish Players regular Dermot Walsh. It’s so cool when characters from one play turn up in another by the same writer!
Sounds like big fun with the Irish Players on the Alumnae main stage, folks. For more info and reservations, visit the TIP website: http://www.torontoirishplayers.org/
I’ll be dropping by a rehearsal for NIF show Summer’s End on Sunday afternoon, as well as the GuineaPigging read-through sometime next week.
Till, then – get out and see The Hunt for Red Willie!