SmokeScreen’s ‘Good Evening’ not your usual comedy

Character-driven show consisting of ten different, scripted skits opening at Plaza 88 May 8 and 9

Dave Mulgrew, left, and Ryan Hughes rehearse a scene from 'Good Evening.' (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

A small, but dedicated, cast and crew at SmokeScreen Productions is putting the finishing touches on a funny, yet unusual, full-length play it’s bringing to the stage May 9 and 10.

SmokeScreen, which has been in existence for about 14 years, is presenting Good Evening by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore at Plaza 88. They’re also presenting the show at TheatreFest 2019 in Regina on May 2.

The two-man show is starring local theatre veterans, Ryan Hughes and Dave Mulgrew. Instead of one, overarching story, the show consists of ten different comedic sketches, with different characters in each scene. That brings about a unique challenge for the actors, as they have to each portray ten separate characters in a dialogue-heavy performance.

“It’s not your typical play you’re used to seeing on stage,” said director Maureen Pepper.

“It’s actually about ten comedy skits and some other surprises thrown in there. It’s about two men that do all of these different characters, it’s very, very funny.”

The show, she said, is something SmokeScreen has wanted to do for a long time.

Pepper came across the show a few years ago, and knew instantly she wanted to put it on with Mulgrew and Hughes.

“I always had them picked out for this show. This was the year they were both available to do it,” she said.

Hughes said it took about three hours for them to get through the first readthrough because they were laughing so hard.

He said it’s appropriate that it’s Mulgrew joining him in the two-person cast, as the pair have a long history working together.

“My very first play (in Prince Albert) was with Dave,” Hughes said.

“I like working with him because he is structured with his timing, and he’s willing to try new things. I can do something and he’s not going to be flustered by it. He’s going to accept it and then try to bounce something off me as well. It just works. It clicks.”

Hughes has not only seen in several community productions, he’s also a frequent cast member of Off the Cuff Improv. This show has allowed him to bring an improv-style performance to a scripted play.

“It’s all conversation, so you’re kind of flexible in what you can do,” he said.

“We can do some different improv things and just say our lines with it. I’ve always wanted to do something like this.”

Mulgrew, who has both acted with and directed Hughes in the past, called his castmate “kind of an improv genius.

“I’ve always wanted to do this show with Ryan. I like his comedic timing. The way he goes, he just takes on different characters and always brings energy to rehearsals.”

One of the biggest challenges in bringing this show to life, Mulgrew said, was creating ten distinct characters.

“We started by looking at the movement and then the voice came with it,” he said.

“You play everything from a 75-year-old man to an English schoolmaster. I was trying to find something distinctively different with each character.”

Tickets are on sale at Canadian Tire for $25 apiece. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for each show, with the performance starting at 7:30.

SmokeScreen is looking forward to presenting the show to the local audience.

“We have always been about trying different things and thinking outside of the box,” Pepper said.

“It’s definitely something different. People are in for a lot of character work here, and some fast, sarcastic humour.”