Watch a scene from “A Most Pleasant Comedy of Mucedorus”, a play produced by Vagabond Productions.
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - UPEI’s Vagabond Productions has made a practice of mounting plays that are not on the general public’s radar since starting its performance troupe in 2005.
With the exception of “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Misanthrope”, director Greg Doran has steered away from well-known productions, preferring to introduce students to hidden gems – plays that might not appear on the mainstages of P.E.I. theatres.
“A natural extension of my role as a university teacher is introducing people to new things and helping them to see the value of those new things or the qualities that they possess,” says Doran, who is the UPEI theatre studies co-ordinator.
This year’s show, “A Most Pleasant Comedy of Mucedorus”, is no exception.
“What makes this a hidden gem is the fact that it’s really funny, it’s brisk and it plays really well,” says Doran of the Renaissance comedy that opened March 12 and continues today and tomorrow, 7:30 p.m., in the Faculty Lounge of UPEI’s Main Building.
“A Most Pleasant Comedy of Mucedorus” is the story of Mucedorus, a prince living in Valencia, Spain, who goes to Aarogon to see Princess Amadine, with an eye for marriage. The prince disguises himself as a shepherd before heading off on a journey to see if Amadine is as worthy of the praise she’s been receiving.
However, things do not go as smoothly as planned.
Amadine is already betrothed to another, Segasto. He ends up having a fight with the captain of the guard. Then Amadine is kidnapped by the Wildman and hidden in the forest.
“But, of course, it’s a comedy, so everyone lives happily ever after in the end,” says the director.
While theatregoers may not have seen it, audiences will find it familiar because of the comedic elements from the Renaissance period that will be featured. There’s a clown figure, similar to Dogberry, a character in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”, and a wild man, which was very much a popular character of the late 1500s.
“There is also some clever language use. So, I’ve been comparing it to ‘Princess Bride’. It has that feel to it with adventure and sword fighting.”
Because it was an unknown entity, it took time to convince the cast to come alongside.
When Doran presented Dylan Gaudet with the script and invited him to play Segasto, the actor didn’t think it was funny, at first.
“I had never heard about this show, so I was taken aback. But, at the same time I was intrigued. I like the Renaissance period,” says Gaudet, who is doing it for his theatre practicum.
But any doubts he had soon disappeared when he started reading the script aloud.
“I found myself sitting there laughing. I love it. It’s so funny,” Gaudet says.
Charlotte Robertson, who plays Princess Amadine, loves the play for another reason.
“It’s my first breakout role. I’m super excited,” says Robertson, who is in her second Vagabond production.
Doran says the family-friendly show offers something for everyone.
“On the surface, there’s a lot of physical humour. So, it will appeal to a younger audience.”
But an older audience will take away a different element like the language, the jokes or some of the other surprise elements that are happening in the play.
“That’s why I think it’s a gem, it touches a lot of different qualities that we like in our comedies.”
Need to know
- What: “A Most Pleasant Comedy of Mucedorus”
- When and where: March 15-16, 7:30 p.m., UPEI Faculty Lounge with limited seating
- Tickets: Admission to the family-friendly play is at the door, pay-as-you-can with doors opening at 7 p.m.
- Information: Contact UPEI Vagabond Productions on Facebook, at email@example.com, or call 902-566-6013