Review: The Original Cast a blast of mindless farce

Smerd the Under Gardener (Jim Cleough) is sprayed by madcap maid Grizelda Protheroe (Leslie Sanchez) in Mercury Players
Smerd the Under Gardener (Jim Cleough) is sprayed by madcap maid Grizelda Protheroe (Leslie Sanchez) in Mercury Players' farcical play within a play The Original Cast.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

If comedy and farce are your cups of tea, The Original Cast is steeped in two of your favourite things.

Former Cowichan playwright Greg Finnegan was in the Mercury Theatre for Thursday's debut of his work by the hard-working Mercury Players.

Directors Jim Cleough and Jennifer Lally, plus stage manager Ciara Whelan, mounted an amusingly pointless production packed with plenty of madcap moments during this play within a play at the stuffy Merc.

Act one saw the lightweight plot's humourous introduction as theatre director Dan Michaels (Cleough) recruits aging actors — who staged his dad's version of British farce A Weekend Away — for another kick at the can in the tired Trent Bay Playhouse.

But the mature thespians couldn't quite leave their egos and prickly pasts at the door to reprise their memory-lane stroll.

It was a laugh watching Angie Brockhurst's turn as sniffy prima dona Renda Barber, opposite Ted Eden's effeminate gay man Giles Stanhope.

Marinus Vesseur 's portrayal of perpetually loaded Bill Lampson also deserved a big toast.

And Leslie Sanchez's spiritually spacey Dorrie White was definitely reminiscent of Cowichan's gregarious granola set.

Enter act two when Michaels' cast runs amok in a ridiculous forest of farcical sexcapades and mistaken-identity madness.

That dead-end nonsense adequately tickled the crowd as meaningless characters reflected mainstream TV's pablum, and vacant English humour.

Viewers seeking a brain-free evening of original, local theatre can sure count on The Original Cast to fill the bill.

Comedy-farce rating: 8 buffoons out of 10.

The Original Cast runs at the Mercury Theatre, on Duncan's Brae Road, May 8, 9, and 10 at 7:30 p.m.

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