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March 30, 2011

Clowns clobber the bard in MöcShplat

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The Montreal Gazette reviews MöcShplat: “Macbeth, in gibberish, and it is a prodigious, bubbling cauldron of broad, occasionally bawdy, grownup silliness.”

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Geordie Productions takes a big, floppy-shoe step away from its more familiar role as a presenter of theatre for all ages with the Clowns Gone Bad creation MöcShplat. This time, the target is teens and grownups. And the target is a bull’s-eye. MöcShplat is Macbeth, in gibberish, and it is a prodigious, bubbling cauldron of broad, occasionally bawdy, grownup silliness. It is also entirely inventive and, well, brilliant.

The sold-out crowd at Centaur Theatre Friday burst out laughing the moment the clowns walked onstage and began their daft take on the Shakespearean tragedy and the crowd didn’t stop laughing until the clowns took their bows. And then the laughter only stopped because the wild applause had begun.

The humour in MöcShplat appeals to those who know the play and those who don’t. Those who don’t will appreciate the cast’s classic European clowning skills, honed until they hum, or hiccup as the case may be.

Those who have even a rudimentary understanding of the play will laugh a little deeper and faster and louder and longer because the hilarious references to the original just never stop coming.

There are 28 characters in Shakespeare’s tale of betrayal, madness and murder. Danielle Desormeaux, Marcel Jeannin, Michel Perron and John Sheridan take on a good many of them, spewing invented language as if it was their mother tongue. Strange as it may sound, you find yourself understanding them, right quick. Director Alain Goulem and artistic producer Deena Aziz came up with a lexicon of 65 words and the cast helped them filled in the blanks. Goulem’s direction is masterful. No laugh is left unturned. It flows. It’s hilarious. And it makes perfect sense. If shooting pita-bread skeets with a fish skeleton makes sense.

Desormeaux is double-over funny as the devious Laädie (Lady Macbeth) who eventually succumbs to madness and quacks like a chicken. Okay, maybe she doesn’t quack like a chicken in the original play. No matter how hard she tries, poor Läadie just can’t seem to scrub that blood off her hands. Or, in the case of MöcShplat, tangled red wool. Jeannin is a gut-busting tour de force in white face as the leading man in search of a crown. Perron could stand still and do nothing and still make you laugh. Put him in a dog suit or ask him to play Quöbang (Banquo) and he slays. Sheridan is a dandy as Döff (Macduff), but he’s wackiest as the shuffling, plastered Poöta (Porter).

All is made that much zanier by Benjamin Gerlis’ off-kilter, loony props, sets and costumes. (Think comic book seen through the haze of funny cigarettes.) And David Perreault Ninacs’ lighting design and Clea Minaker’s shadow-puppet consulations worked wonders during MöcShplat’s interactions with the three Hägs (you guessed it, witches). You’re catching on already.

It would be a shame for Shakespeare lovers not to see this one. Or Shakespeare haters, for that matter. Or even people who just want a good laugh.

Geordie Productions presents Clowns Gone Bad in MöcShplat at Centaur Theatre, 453 St. François Xavier St., Sat. (Feb. 5) at 9:30 p.m. and Sun. (Feb. 6) at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. In honor of the big football game Sunday, if you say “Superbowl” when you call the box office, tickets cost $10. Discount only applies to the Sun. (Feb. 6) show at 7 p.m. Next weekend shows are Sat. (Feb. 12) at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and Sun. (Feb. 13) at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets cost $18 for adults, $17 for students and seniors and $14.50 for children 12 to 14 years old. The play is not recommended for children under 12 years old. For reservations, 514-845-9810, www.geordie.ca.

kgreenaway@montrealgazette.com
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