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Terrific night of comic theatre... for 14-year-old boys

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/4/2011 (2789 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There is no mistaking that Thunderstick is the rookie play of Cree playwright Kenneth T. Williams from Saskatoon.

It's not a great play, not even a good play but a cute puppy of a play. Thunderstick, which opened at Prairie Theatre Exchange Thursday night, tries so darn hard to please but it keeps tripping over its unsteady feet to really get anywhere significant. Occasionally its embarrassingly puerile but you can't really dislike it although you just wish it would act a little more mature.

No one associated with the Persephone Theatre (Saskatoon), Theatre Network (Edmonton) co-production emerges smelling like a rose since the wilfully sophomoric production, co-directed by Bradley Moss and Del Surjik, goes looking for humour literally in the toilet bowl. The levity never rises much above that level over the two laugh-filled hours.

So if you insist your theatre be meaningful and memorable you might want to pass on Thunderstick, a title which, although it references rifles in old-time Hollywood cowboys-and-Indians movies, has nothing to do with anything in the play.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/4/2011 (2789 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Lauzon (left) and Cardinal in a scene from the decidedly unsophisticated Thunderstick, on until April 17 at PTE.

LIAM RICHARDS

Lauzon (left) and Cardinal in a scene from the decidedly unsophisticated Thunderstick, on until April 17 at PTE.

There is no mistaking that Thunderstick is the rookie play of Cree playwright Kenneth T. Williams from Saskatoon.

It's not a great play, not even a good play but a cute puppy of a play. Thunderstick, which opened at Prairie Theatre Exchange Thursday night, tries so darn hard to please but it keeps tripping over its unsteady feet to really get anywhere significant. Occasionally its embarrassingly puerile but you can't really dislike it although you just wish it would act a little more mature.

No one associated with the Persephone Theatre (Saskatoon), Theatre Network (Edmonton) co-production emerges smelling like a rose since the wilfully sophomoric production, co-directed by Bradley Moss and Del Surjik, goes looking for humour literally in the toilet bowl. The levity never rises much above that level over the two laugh-filled hours.

So if you insist your theatre be meaningful and memorable you might want to pass on Thunderstick, a title which, although it references rifles in old-time Hollywood cowboys-and-Indians movies, has nothing to do with anything in the play.

The evening's main attraction is the two-man cast of TV chuckleheads Lorne Cardinal, of Corner Gas fame, and Craig Lauzon, once a regular of Royal Canadian Air Farce. Their shtick includes alternating the two roles of aboriginal cousins who find themselves reunited at the Ottawa Citizen newspaper and assigned to attend together a press conference about a missing cabinet minister.

As the dramedy opens Jacob, played by Lauzon, is passed out on the floor of his crappy apartment strewn with beer and liquor bottles. When he comes to, he begs God to put him out of his hangover misery. The paunchy reporter has a nasty drinking problem that has sent three wives and his latest girlfriend packing.

To make matters worse, in walks cousin Isaac, (Cardinal) "an uptight, preachy bastard," who has been abroad taking photographs wherever there is conflict. They both managed to escape their reservation, fleeing a past they reveal only in the second act. They reluctantly agree to work together but end up in jail after Jacob barfs on Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

It is behind bars that Jacob blurts out his outlandish theory about the missing justice minister and where she may be. It sends the pair into the Northern Ontario woods where the plot gets lost but there is really no need to send out a search party.

Just follow Lauzon and Cardinal. They will lead you to comic mayhem that makes you forget where you are.

After the fart joke, Williams does introduce some sobriety to the show by having the pair fess up as to why these two not-so-braves were in such a hurry to enter the white man's world. While Jacob travelled the world photographing the ugliness of war, Jacob is living a war with himself. Both are running away, one from the effects of residential school and the other, a horribly abusive alcoholic father. Their reconnection just might trigger mutual healing.

Lauzon basks in the showy part of Jacob, a likable but self-destructive goof. His timing and broad physical comedy are impressive and crowd-pleasing. Cardinal, the other member of this odd couple, was more restrained as Isaac, the straight man. It was evident that it was hard for him to restrain his comic instincts which no doubt are unleashed when it becomes his turn to be Jacob. The pair carry on their act between scenes, shaking their booties while changing designer Marissa Kochanski's versatile set.

In Thunderstick, Williams proves he is audience-friendly but needs to show more than an ability to collect easy laughs.

kevin.prokosh@freepress.mb.ca

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