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Photo by Barbara Havrot.

undercurrents: Forstner and Fillister build laughs as well as furniture

By Jared Davidson on February 12, 2016

The title of this play is Forstner and Fillister Present: Forstner and Fillister in: Fosterner and Fillister. If that makes you laugh, you will like this play. If the use of punctuation concerns you, you’ll probably still like this play. This is a play that it’s hard not to like. Those who have fond memories of the Red Green Show will recognise its influence here immediately.

The show features two brothers, played by Will Somers and David Benedict Brown, who plan to teach the audience about woodworking. A good plan, but one that goes fairly swiftly to pot as tensions rise, as so often happens between siblings who go into business together. As it happens, though they aren’t siblings, Somers and Brown apparently do woodworking jobs together in real life, and are likely drawing on their experience.

Knowing their aptitude for the job made me a bit less concerned as they wielded power tools with what seemed like reckless abandon, tearing holes through their own set with wildness in their eyes. There are so many points that walk the line between humour and oh-no-someone-has-lost-a-finger that the comedy is made all the more zany.

For those that saw the show at Fresh Meat last year, it has been updated fairly considerably, at least visually. There is a new set, complete with an emblazoned “F&F,” which serves to give the play a professional tone. The costumes have also been updated, and the pair are dressed in garb more befitting of their handyman characters: plaid, boots, safety glasses, etc.

The show’s strength is in the ability of the duo to comically undercut one another. Somers, whose character is the angrier of the two, plays this extremely well. Many of the jokes involve him disturbing, ignoring, or otherwise taking the attention from Brown’s character, whose reaction is usually one of consternation and resignation. This tension, this interplay between the characters, is brought to a climax as the source of the tension is finally revealed. Drama ensues.

Make no mistake, this show is about the laughs. The bits and jokes are packed densely into a performance that feels all-too-short. One memorable bit involves F&F taking the audience through the history of furniture making, using visual aids in the form of hand-drawn cartoons. This is an opportunity for the performers to satirize furniture making over the ages, but also a perfect opportunity to intensify the conflict between the two characters: Fillister, always earnest, seeks to educate while Forstner continually obfuscates. It’s a perfect example of the great character work these two are doing, and it’s a joy to watch.

Forstner and Fillister achieves what it sets out to do: it gets laughs. It’s a fun, tightly rehearsed and performed bit of theatre with a dabble of audience participation and a whole lot of power tools.

Forstner and Fillister has its second and final show Friday Feb 12 at 10:30pm. Admission is on a pay-what-you-can basis.