Ex­plor­ing the light and dark­ness of Shake­speare

Per­chance Theatre’s new sea­son opens with an un­ex­pected star

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY TARA BRAD­BURY

There’s a creepy side of Shake­speare — a side full of witches and ghosts and blood and vi­o­lence — that Per­chance Theatre wants to ex­plore. With you. In the dark.

They’ve got the per­fect venue for it: an El­iz­a­bethan-era stage, out in the woods of Cupids in the night­time, with no lights around. It’s how they plan to bring you their ver­sion of “Mac­beth” this sum­mer, and they’re hop­ing you’re up for it.

“We’re re­ally hop­ing au­di­ences will be in­ter­ested in that ghostly, su­per­sti­tious sto­ry­telling that the theatre, with its woods sur­round­ing it and lack of life and ex­cel­lent po­ten­tial creep fac­tor brings,” Per­chance’s artis­tic di­rec­tor Danielle Irvine says. “We re­ally want to em­brace that space and put it through its po­ten­tial at night.”

Star­ring Paul Wil­son as Mac­beth, Janet Ed­monds as Lady Mac­beth and Steve O’Con­nell as Macduff, “Mac­beth,” Shake­speare’s fa­mous bloody thriller, will be pre­viewed July 24, then of­fi­cially open the next day.

First, though, Per­chance will ex­plore the lighter side of Shake­speare, with “Much Ado About Noth­ing,” a com­edy about love, cyn­i­cism and trick­ery, set (in this ver­sion of it), dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

“It’s a wartime play in its writ­ing, and it goes nat­u­rally with the war-time di­rec­tor Jean­nette Lam­ber­mont-Morey is choos­ing,” Irvine says. “In that era, women were re­ally known as smart, strong, sexy and funny — think Katharine Hep­burn — and that re­ally suits the ladies in this show.”

Lead­ing the “Much Ado” cast is Irvine’s “wild­card,” standup comic John Shee­han, in his first Shake­spearean role since 1999. Irvine had known Shee­han as a co­me­dian and TV ac­tor and found out about his love of Shake­speare through some­one else.

“I was teach­ing Shake­speare to Grade 8s out in Har­bour Grace and there was this sweet and tal­ented young girl there, 13 years old, and she blew my mind. I said, ‘How do you know so much about Shake­speare?’ and she said, ‘My dad loves him.’ I asked her who her dad was and she said, ‘John Shee­han.’

“He’s fan­tas­tic. Of course, he’s ex­ceed­ingly funny, but he re­ally gets Shake­speare, the lan­guage and the hu­mour and the drive of it. It’s a nat­u­ral and un­ex­pected fit, and we’re hav­ing a blast work­ing to­gether.”

Shee­han, who stars as Benedick op­po­site Alexis Koet­ting’s Beatrice in the pro­duc­tion, says he never imag­ined do­ing Shake­speare again, let alone his favourite play.

“Benedick, the male lead, was a char­ac­ter I had dreamed about play­ing, but long since given up, think­ing I wouldn’t be do­ing this sort of thing again,” Shee­han says. “I jumped. Benedick is a fun char­ac­ter, but he’s also a rogue in that he’s non-con­ven­tional. He can laugh and pull pranks with the best of them, but he’s an ac­com­plished soldier who prides hon­our above all.

“I started off be­ing ex­tremely ner­vous, hav­ing to share the stage with the tal­ent Per­chance has, but ev­ery­one has been fan­tas­tic, and now I just can’t wait to open.”

“Much Ado About Noth­ing” pre­miered last week­end and will run with “Mac­beth” un­til the end of Au­gust.

Per­chance will also present its reg­u­lar “Muses and Min­strels” se­ries each Sun­day un­til Aug. 23, fea­tur­ing a short va­ri­ety show of tal­ent with per­form­ers such as Shee­han, Won­der­bolt Cir­cus, singer Calvin Pow­ell, sto­ry­tellers and more.

This year, the theatre com­pany is mak­ing things a lit­tle more con­ve­nient for au­di­ences, hav­ing part­nered with A Plus Taxi and Tours to of­fer a pickup bus ser­vice out to Cupids from var­i­ous points in down­town St. John’s.

Tick­ets

for

“Mac­beth”

and “Much Ado About Noth­ing” are $35 reg­u­lar ad­mis­sion and $30 for se­niors and stu­dents, and tick­ets for the “Muses and Min­strels” se­ries are $20. All are avail­able through Per­chance’s web­site at www.per­chancethe­atre.com.

Also on the web­site is a se­ries of hi­lar­i­ous “Swear Like Shake­speare” videos star­ring Paul Wil­son as Shake­speare in mod­ern-day sit­u­a­tions.

“We’re hop­ing we can pique peo­ple’s cu­rios­ity and awaken their sense of play,” Irvine says, adding New­found­lan­ders are no strangers to the cre­ative curse word. “We’re hav­ing so much fun.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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