Last Saturday evening we happy few who love performing art on Bowen Island, or at least rarely miss an opportunity to attend a performance, had the good fortune to witness a new outgrowth from an old tree with deep roots. Wil and Daly Thompson, and a group of their fellow students at Matthew Harrison’s Vancouver-based acting academy, The Actor’s Foundry, treated us to five short comic plays at the Tir-na-nOg theatre. The playwright, David Ives, is an American with an impressively long resume dating back to the 1970s. It was all new to me, though I suspect, not to many others in the audience––people who know their stuff and made it their business to be there––you know, Hondro, Hodson, Neilsen, et al.
The sophistication of Ives’ comic premises, and his use of language, can’t be properly done justice to here, by me at least. Let me just recap the scenarios in brief. ‘A Singular Kinda Guy’: this was Wil Thompson’s opening monologue––replete with a bit where he “forgets” his lines, for just long enough to make us all squirm a bit––about a man who believes he is really a typewriter, and not just any typewriter. He successfully identifies his soulmate––a sheet of creamy-white 10 lb. bond––seated in the audience, before leaving the stage. ‘Sure Thing’: a young man attempts to kindle a connection with a girl in a café, although every time says or does the wrong thing, the conversation restarts (with the ringing of a bell––kudos to Jack Headley’s usual immaculate technical backup throughout but particularly in this sketch). Beautifully timed, without a single unintended pause in the action. ‘The Philadelphia’: a young man named Marcus has his life is turned upside down when he realizes he can’t get anything he asks for, until his friend Al tells him he’s in a parallel universe called a Philadelphia––he merely needs to ask for the opposite of what he wants and all will be well. Meanwhile a waitress serves them cheesesteak. ‘Enigma Variations’: impressive choreography here, as two patients seek help from their doctors simultaneously. Lastly, ‘The Universal Language’: a young woman with a stutter seeks a man to help her learn the universal language known as Unamunda [one world––get it?]. You can find a complete glossary of terms on Wikipedia. ‘Welcome’ is velcro, and ‘English’ is, perhaps inevitably, ‘JohnClease.’ The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, in other words.
Impresario Matthew Harrison––seated front row centre––guffawed loudly throughout, as did newly-fledged director Calder Stewart [Blood Relations]––seated back row centre. The rest of us did too.
Inexplicably, there were empty seats in the theatre; a pity, since there was only one performance. Doubtless, had there been more shows, “the word” would have gotten out, and subsequent shows would have been, quite rightly, fully attended.
Most of the faces on-stage (and many off) were new to Bowen, as they are Vancouver-based students at The Foundry. Regrettably, many had conflicting projects on the mainland, hence the limitation to one performance only. These very talented young people managed to maintain full control of the manic pacing required of them. It was wonderful to see.
Best of all, perhaps, the Thompson twins already have another project in mind. It appears, thusly, that the next generation of producer/directors, and I’m thinking of Calder here as well, is at last making itself known on Bowen Island. What a thrill!