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Shipwrecked! offers a wonderful (and clever) dose of silliness

By Alejandro Bustos on December 4, 2014

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Silliness often gets a bad rap.  For some lovers of culture, art is not really art unless it is exploring a serious theme.  “Real actors don’t do slapstick,” I can hear these deep thinkers declare.  “While ridiculous plot lines are signs of a weak imagination.”

In response, one can imagine how Pomme Frites, the wonderful clown character created by local actor Scott Florence from Ottawa’s beloved A Company of Fools, would react.  I can see Pomme in my mind’s eye strut up to these artistic snobs, with a look of disdain on his face, and say with a delightful French accent, “Monsieur, what you say is bullcaca.”  Then he would proceed to honk each one on the nose.

Which leads us to the world premiere of Pomme and ‘Restes: Shipwrecked! on the Tempestuous Lost Island of Never, which is playing at the Great Canadian Theatre Company (1233 Wellington St. W.) until December 14.

Make no mistake, this work is full of silliness, excessive physical humour and a crazy plot that would make “serious” audience members roll their eyes.  For those who love great theatre, however, it also has wonderful acting, a very clever script and a set design that is excellent.

This play follows the adventures of Pomme Frites and ‘Restes, arguably the two most famous clowns to come out of the National Capital Region.  (An ironic statement? No, it’s an observation of great acting!)  In this latest adventure, our two protagonists are working as clowns on a cruise ship, when they are fired from their jobs for excessive silliness.

L-R - Scott Florence (Pomme), Pierre Brault (Prospero), Margo MacDonald ('Restes)

L-R: Scott Florence (Pomme), Pierre Brault (Prospero), Margo MacDonald (‘Restes) – Photo by Andrew Alexander

Before being able to leave, however, the duo are shipwrecked on a deserted island, where they must deal with a real life Anne of Green Gables turned Amazon Queen, Captain Hook from Peter Pan and a dark stage magician from the cruise ship  who is also shipwrecked on the island.

If you are the type of person who wouldn’t be caught dead watching a Jim Carrey comedy, then this play may not be for you.  This does not mean, however, that his work is not intelligent.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

To begin with the acting is wonderful.  Pomme Frites’ desire to perform “stand-up tragedy” for the audience is not only hilarious, it also very, very clever.  Then there is ‘Restes (Margo MacDonald), the other half of this delightful clown duo that will make you laugh, think and applaud.

The rest of the cast also does a top-notch job.  Pierre Brault is great as the magician Prospero, while Jesse Buck transitions flawlessly between his roles as the entertainment director on the cruise ship to Captain Hook on the island.

Katie Ryerson is also a joy to watch, as she plays both Prospero’s daughter and, in a full embrace of the absurd, Anne of Green Gables-cum-Amazon Queen

If you like to pride yourself as a “serious” person, who prefers to reflect on the mysterious of the universe as opposed to learning knock-knock jokes, then this play may not be your cup of tea.  For the rest of us who love wonderful acting, on the other hand, we can sit back and relax as we watch the fabulous Pomme Frites make fun of exactly this type of high minded “serious thinker.”

Pomme and ‘Restes: Shipwrecked! on the Tempestuous Lost Island of Never is playing at the GCTC (1233 Wellington St. W.) until December 14.  Tickets can be purchased online.

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