Theatre-Inception at the Gladstone – Anton in Show Business
Photo courtesy of Three Sisters Theatre Company.
From now through March 5th, theatre-inception is happening nightly at the Gladstone Theatre. (Theatre-inception? What’s that – a play within a play?) Anton in Show Business – a satirical comedy billed as “Seven women. Thirteen characters. Two scripts. Mayhem.” – is an insightful and highly entertaining look into the culture of theatre in relation to modern society. For my fellow non-theatre majors – yes, it is a play about making a play, and no, “theatre-inception” is not proper theatre jargon, so I wouldn’t recommend using it to try to impress your friends. Whether you’re a seasoned Gladstone subscriber or a first-time patron, this show will give everyone a good laugh.
Anton in Show Business plays on stereotypes to create relatable humour for all audience members. Gender clichés? Check. Race stereotypes? For sure. And the biggest one: the typical performer persona – poor, usually out-of-work actors who have disappointed their parents by following their dreams.
Some of the funniest moments arise when Joby, an “audience member,” interrupts the production to point out these character exaggerations and plot holes. By having actors on the other side of the fourth wall (i.e. the invisible line that typically divides characters from patrons), the audience’s level of engagement is intensified – you feel like you, too, have a role in the show.
I’d argue, however, that the success of a theatre production comes down to the talent of the cast – and this group of women nailed it! From the dynamic character changes, to the variety of accents, to the careful balance of light and dark humour, these actors were outstanding.
With 13 characters and only seven cast members, actors were switching between roles quickly, even within a single scene. The transformations were so well done that if I hadn’t known there were only seven actors in total, I would have sworn there were more. The switch I found most mind boggling was Laura Hall’s transition between characters Kate and Ben. Ms. Hall was unrecognisable, even while Ben’s plaid shirt was incorporated directly into Kate’s costume.
The element of the play that my theatre companion found most impressive was Rachel Eugster’s seemingly natural ability to take on different accents for her characters Ralph, Wikéwich, and Joe Bob. Ms. Eugster did this all while crossdressing and seamlessly dealing with a runaway moustache (to the younger patrons’ delight).
Lastly, Robin Guy’s portrayal of Casey Mulgraw was remarkable. Ms. Guy was able to create a delicate balance between light and dark by dealing with her character’s misfortunes through self-deprecating humour.
Anton in Show Business offers shows in the evening Tuesday through Saturday and matinees Saturday and Sunday at the Gladstone Theatre. For information about tickets and show times, please visit: http://www.thegladstone.ca/anton.html.