It’s always exciting when locally written theatrical productions get written. Original works are such an important part of the theatre world – without them, there would be less variety and less stories to be told. Besides, it’s always awesome when you know, or know of, the people involved.
In the case of Post Productions latest show – the double-bill of Autopsy by Alex Monk and A Haunting in E Flat by Joey Ouellette, you’d never guess these were locally written had Post not actually told us.
The secret of any good production lies in the writing of the work – no matter how good the production, how amazing the actors or how fancy the marketing is, if the script sucks, the play will ultimately suck.
Rest assured, there is no sucking going on here.
The double bill starts with Monk’s crafty Autopsy with actors David DuChene (Gary), Joey Wright (John Doe), Drew Beaudoin (Michael) and Rebecca S. Mickle (Marie-Louise). Surprisingly, Autopsy is only one of the first two plays he’s ever written and it didn’t show at all. The work was clever, original and was always moving.
It tells the story of burnt-out pathologist Gary, who finds his life turned upside-down when a body, known only as John Doe, wakes up during an autopsy. The dialogue that follows becomes a life changing event for the over-worked and uninspired forensic expert. Initially expecting a bit more horror throughout, Autopsy was surprisingly more of a poignant statement about complacency rather than a Halloween horror fest. And that’s what made it entertaining and easy to watch.
DuChene fit the role of Gary to the point that I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t a pathologist or mortician in real life. His interactions with Wright were priceless and made the show that much more enjoyable. I hope we’ll see this duo appear together again sometime in the future. Beaudoin and Mickle added doses of reality at all the right moments.
The stage was a simple dark basement room with a cold table centered around all the action and director Michael O’Reilly stayed on point moving the show at a perfect and comedic pace.
A Haunting in E Flat with James Stone (Thomas), Carla Gyemi (Charmaine), Greg Girty (Elliott) and Rebecca S. Mickle (Nancy) followed.
Although nowhere near as simple a story as Autopsy, Ouellette approached this ambitious script with fervor and excitement.
In the show, paranormal investigator Thomas Nett, aided by his psychic medium niece Charmaine, has been at the game too long. In fact, at the beginning of the show, he almost seems like a bit of a phony. One day he’s faced with two new cases involving a woman haunted by a spirit in her apartment and a man haunted by his mother. In his efforts to assist his clients rid of their spirits, he ends up confronting his own demons.
Unlike Autopsy, A Haunting in E Flat had a few set changes as Thomas and Charmaine visited the homes of the hauntings. A clever spinning backdrop quickly allowed for the rooms to change with minimal effort.
Stone is a local theatre vet who makes his return to the stage as Thomas. At first, his personality seemed a little over the top, but as the show went on, that was actually the magic of what made Thomas such an interesting character to watch. He was passionate about being a ghostbuster.
Gyemi is always a pleasure to watch and Charmaine was no exception. There were moments when she was channeling the dead characters that actually resembled some of the big touring medium shows that have visited Caesars Windsor – although much like, Thomas, Charmaine was lovingly a bit over the top.
Girty’s Elliot was my favourite character in the show. His nerdy portrayal fit in well with the exaggerated characters around him. His musical theatre background gave his expressions that extra special touch. Mickle also makes an appearance in A Haunting in E Flat as a woman being tortured by a Mozart playing ghost. She seemed to have a lot more fun playing Nancy.
Director Fay Lynn had a bit more work to do with this show that O’Reilly did with Autopsy. It’s a fast-moving tale with dark comedic undertones that are perfect for the Halloween season.
The “late night double-feature” approach for this show worked extremely well. It gave each play the chance to showcase what it could do in less than an hour each. There is nothing disappointing about these plays and each author should be proud of these incredible works.
Both shows were written under the 2018 Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest, where Post Productions gives local and aspiring playwrights the opportunity to have their works written, read and produced. The winner of the 2019 contest, Edele Winnie’s Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands, is expected to open the 2020 Post season. For more information about the program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Autopsy and A Haunting in E Flat continue tonight (Oct. 10), as well as Friday and Saturday (Oct. 11 and 12) at The Shadowbox Theatre located at the corner of Howard and Shepherd in Windsor. Opening weekend sold-out quickly, so advance tickets are encouraged for the remaining shows. Visit postproductionswindsor.ca for more information.