Lyle McNish

Udderfest 2015 in review

Click to check our reviews of all seven Udderfest 2015 productions

Deadline

Sometimes in the world of journalism, the story that can make or break your career is right under your nose and you don’t even know it.

That is the case for Chester (David Smook) and Alister (Chris Armstrong), two very different reporters at different points in their careers at the Prince Rupert Daily View Chronicle. The two are told by their eccentric editor (Michael Gurney) to find a story worthy of the front page for the newspaper’s 100th anniversary edition, but newbie Chester is too busy trying to impress while the experienced and battle-tested Alister could seem to care less.

As the day progresses, chlorinated water shoots out of the office refrigerator while the swimming pool and the water taps seems to be devoid of water. But that must just be coincidence.

The editor — who has already given a very mixed up sports analogy — dresses as a doctor to tell the two the publisher’s dying words were to fire whoever didn’t produce the story and that ignites a fierce race for a story. A mad race to the fax machine results in a ripped press release containing the words “pip” and “eline”. Which, the two decide, is just nonsense.

After more hijinks and hilarious performances, including the drugging of Chester’s coffee and a visit from the  supernatural editor who threatens to print the Internet, it all comes together.

How could they not see the City was piping its drinking water supply to California in exchange for three tickets to Disneyland for members of council?

Hedges

Nobody wins when neighbours go to war – particularly the mighty cedar hedge that separates the two housesholds.

Well, nobody but a profiteering businessman who helps feed the frenzy to make a sale.

That was the case in “Hedges”, a short play about the Smith and Jones family. When the Jones’ dog Fifi starts doing her business on the wrong side of the hedge, the Smiths retaliate in a dispute that quickly escalates to include the Smith’s new hole-digging dog named Rex, Lime powder, a chainsaw, kerosene, off-key opera and, perhaps worst of all, Justin Bieber.

As the relationship between the two families gets worse and worse, the profits of hardware store owner Widget get bigger and bigger leading the unscrupulous business man to put fuel on the proverbial fire.

But, as a man with his own household and business to support, is what Widget did wrong? Would business owners in town do anything different?

Those are the questions the audience was left to ponder as the lights dimmed on this showcase of talented young Charles Hays Secondary School actors.

After all, guns don’t kill people, the individuals pulling the trigger do.

Interrogation

What starts as a second chance for freedom for inmate Boon turns into a comical test of integrity in “Interrogation”.

After being handed her parole due to an overcrowded, underfunded prison system, Boon (Heath MacRae) makes her way to the halfway house owned by an eccentric and untrusting Irish woman (Treena Decker). After being given the fifth degree, Boon is settling into her surroundings when she meets mentally unstable Keith (Chrystopher Thompson).

Seeking a change in his life, Keith keeps hounding Boon until she reluctantly agrees to give him some tips about how he can rob the home of a friendly senior citizen down the street. But when Keith unexpectedly carries out the robbery, he may or may not have murdered the man with a baseball bat.

Not wanting to end up behind bars again, Boon and Keith call upon Billy Mays (Martina Perry) for expert body removal. Mays, however,  is anything but professional and the body removal involves a corpse being brought to the common area of the halfway house, wrapped in a clown blanket and thrown out the window onto a busy street.

While it looks like Boon is heading back to the slammer, it turns out the whole murder was an elaborate ruse to see if she was reformed and willing to take responsibility — both parole office Keith and Constable Billy thought the plan would not only be a great way to test Boon but to put their love of theatre into practice at the same time.

It all leaves Boon wondering when exactly the entire world went crazy while she was serving her sentence.

Hook, Line and Snicker

Hook, Line and Snicker entrench themselves deeper as the premier off the cuff, rag-tag group of misfits in the city, whose improv had audiences in stitches on Saturday night.

The group’s antics delved into a film-noir, 1910s Rupert village mob movie review, a viking-king’s kinky advances to his pen-pal Erica the Red, a simultaneously over-exuberant, but tired and washed-up city council and a paring down of a performance of “Hansel and Gretel” from 90 seconds into three.

Spellbound: The Secrets of the Bonsai Forest

The youth program returned once again to Udderfest and this time, the kids were whisked off to the magic and wonder of Hogwarts where witches, wizards and mythical creatures all attempted to coexist in harmony.

In “Spellbound: The Secrets of the Bonsai Forest”, big kids Treena, Nivan and Dane helped lead the cast of peculiar and fantastical witches and wizards, who were cast away from Hogwarts due to planting a rat in their headmistress’ drawer and sent to find the Book of Spells hidden outside.

Upon arriving at the Bonsai Forest, the magicians (featuring Harry, Hermione, a Cheez Whizard and others) navigated the depths of the dark and mysterious woodlands.

There, they met Sonic the Hedgehog, a fairy princess, the Minion Bob, unicorns and more.

After a brief Kung-Fu fighting episode, the creatures and wizards decided that working together and being friends was a much better use of their time than fighting and sneaking around.

War of Wits

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper was busy taking on challengers looking to take his seat this October in a televised debate last week, six Prince Rupert raconteurs were busy formulating arguments of their own, designed to win ‘War of Wits’.

The production, hosted by Chris Armstrong, Ted Keehn and Lyle McNish, was a game show-styled debate competition where three team members would match up against each other and attempt to dissuade the other using often outlandish, but surprisingly logical arguments.

Thursday’s show featured the musings of David Smook, Tiffany Riley, Michael Gurney, Jeff Bill, Chrys Thompson and Treena Decker.

Among the debate topics the six orators had to convince audiences the pros and cons of was the merits of paving or not paving the waterfront. Smook’s sensual “hot kiss of asphalt” and angled parking spots won out over Decker’s displaced Third Avenue critters and street performers.

Then, Riley convinced audiences that having every crosswalk should be a rainbow crosswalk in Rupert, reducing seasonal affective disorder (SAD) contrasted to Bill’s argument that the four billion people of the world who are colour-blind (his math checks out) won’t be able to enjoy the rainbow of colours that Rupert’s crosswalks offer.

Gurney took on Thompson when the latter argued that releasing mountain lions on top of Mount Hays would be an effective way to deal with annoying animals, pets and children throughout town, while Gurney made the case that the ‘feral cat release of 1983 was enough’ and rather we should release African lions, so that Simba may lead the Seafest parade.

In the end, Bill and Gurney talked their way to a tie in the finals of ‘War of Wits’, which delighted audiences with allusions of familiar Rupert peculiarities and a more than healthy dose of Kitimat bashing.

The Adventures of Lyle McNish

As “The Adventures of Lyle McNish” began promptly with two characters nestling into their airplane seats, audiences knew right from the bat this was going to be an entertaining spotlight and exploration on the awkward, hilarious and bizarre.

Lyle McNish, playing himself as the straight man (in this play, quite literally), meets three off-the-wall seatmates, played by Rudy Kelly, as is every character in this play not named Lyle McNish.

An agitated flyer, an exaggerated sinner and Herb Pond join McNish on his flight – the latter opening his eyes to the wonders of LNG, making the case that if one were against LNG, one might also hate puppies.

Later, a friend who becomes a tad too friendly makes McNish believe that he is being hit on by another guy, only to discover that his advances were merely body-focused descriptions and articulate compliments in this brave, new age of male to male admiration. McNish becomes quite befuddled and doesn’t exactly know what to do – a theme that persists when he picks up a woman from Hazelton while hitchhiking, who decides to go to Rupert on a whim.

McNish’s elephant puppet prankster buddy tops the play off with the best sketch of them all, when he goads the star to make a buffoon of himself through mockery and then films it on his phone.

 

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