Margo MacDonald (Restes) and Scott Florence (Pommes frites)
The Company of Fools has returned with The Midwinter’s Dream Tale, that Shakespearean parody that fuses Midsummer Night’s Dream into The Winter’s Tale, transforming the fairy tale world of Oberon and Tatiana into a sparkling, frozen and fairly brilliant clown show. The clowns become the narrative links in that rather nasty story about the, narcissistic and jealous Fairy King Oberon, who tries to destroy the Fairy Queen’s baby because he is not convinced it is his own. In a jealous rage, he sends the baby off to be drowned. What follows is the frantic flight away from the king, the frantic search for the child, all accompanied by a desire for vengeance, and the appearance of a whole parade of strange creatures including love sick fairies, the fluffy abominable snow creature, a silvery very in your face Puck, a hugely pregnant Tatiana, a frozen wonderland of twinkling snowflakes and beasts whose eyes glow in the dark. A magnificent show for the whole family with jokes that will amuse the younger children, and other jokes that will tickle the funny bones of the adults. It speaks to everyone.
Ivo Valentik’s set is a most magic place of frozen snowflakes and glowing lights, thanks as well to Rebecca Miller’s excellent lighting desigin. The performances of Scott Florence (Pommes frites) and Margo Macdonald (Restes) as the clown duo , create their own world of stand-up comedy, of prickly characters that shoot their answers back and forth and seem to work off the cuff, taking smart aleck pot shots at the Harper government and any recent news that happens to attract their attention . Those two are very special indeed. Added to their fun and dead pan humour is the way the clown characters develop their individual personae. Florence (Pommes frites) is the egomaniac and exhibitionist who seems to be imitating Peter Sellers’ inspector Clouzot voice, while Margo MacDonald, the oppressed victim, toddles about getting pushed around by her domineering companion. She is a sensitive soul who really wouldn’t hurt a fly. They complete each other so beautifully and they have developed their routine to a point where one could almost pluck them out of the play and watch the two of them carry on, all by themselves for an hour or so. Jesse Buck, as the irreverent Puck, also had an enormous presence as the Shakespearean mischief-maker who also became a form of Elizabethan stand-up comic..Passing from Shakespeare’s world to ours…a transitional character who created great expectations as to what he would come up with next..
What is clear here, is that The Company of Fools has developed a show that will never be dated. The parody of Shakespeare will always interesting and have great general appeal. At the same time the play appears to evolve because there is a lot of improvisation based on current news items, mostly having to do with Canadian politics. Those apparently spontaneous remarks are suddenly blurted out. Jesse Buck (Puck) along with Restes and Pommes frites had a field day, tossing out the most unexpected images to the children and to the parents. They caught the whole audience in their web of funny business and the reaction was just as spontaneous and delightful as the performances themselves.
As for me, it became very clear this time round, that Restes has a particularly deep seated and almost disturbing need for “Ice cream” that definitely must be explored even further.
A Midwinter’s Dream Tale played from November 29 to December 18 at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre.
A Midwinter’s Dream Tale
at the GCTC
A Company of Fools Production
At the Great Canadian Theatre Company/Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre
Directed by Al Connors
Set design by Ivo Valentik
Costume design by Lou Hayden
Lighting design by Rebecca Miller
Mouvement and dance coach Courteney Bamford
Sound and production designer. Al Connors
Pommes frites: Scott Florence
Restes: Margo Macdonald
Puck: Jesse Buck
Tatiana: Kelly Rigole
Oberon: Adam Proszowski