From the smoky halls and icy fields of Viking Denmark comes a timeless tale of murder and revenge. Mad Boy Chronicle, by Canadian playwright Michael O’Brien, appears at the University Theatre from Oct. 17 to 21 at 8 p.m. nightly.
“Set in the final days of the first millennium, Mad Boy Chronicle hauls the Hamlet story howling back to its origins,” says O’Brien. “Join the Mad Boy as he sets out in fierce pursuit of his destiny – in a world where wolves, elves, spirits and Jesus Christ all compete for the future of humanity, and hate might be mightier than love after all.”
The U of L production of this satirical black comedy is directed by Vanessa Porteous, a freelance director and dramaturg based in Calgary. “The play is all about hypocrisy – how society hides its baser elements under a veneer of civilization, of rules and regulations,” she says. “Although its set in 999 AD, the play points a finger at our own society, which is increasingly thinking tribally and divisively. It is important to investigate difficult subjects, and theatre is a great place to discuss controversial and complicated subjects.”
On the other hand, Porteous says she loves the energy and humour in the play.
The play is also chock full of murder and mayhem. “The play operates on a gut level. It is a conflict between barbarism and civilization…and sometimes what seems to be civilized may not be,” says Porteous.
To help the actors polish their sword-play skills, fight director Kevin Kruchkywich from Calgary is spending a week working with the actors.
Also unique to the U of L production is the use of a student composer to create original music for the production. Andrew Farrow, the first ever student composer-in-residence for the U of L Wind Orchestra, is writing the incidental music.
Farrow has also created an ancient lullaby, a drinking song, an excerpt from a saga and several chants in Latin.
Although this is his first time composing for theatre, he has previously helped score projects for new media students. “I love how fast paced the theatre is,” says Farrow.
This is the first time that Porteous has directed a production at a university, and she is thoroughly enjoying the process. “Theatre is a team effort, and I’m impressed with the team I have here. The cast is great and very hard working. This is a high-energy show, and they are handling it,” she says.
Audiences are invited to come with an open mind and a degree of curiosity for a completely unusual evening.
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