Run to See How They Run

Review by Casey Lessard

Like a train ascending a mountain, See How They Run (playing now to August 8 at the Huron Country Playhouse) starts out slow but picks up speed as the comic antics get out of control.
The first laughs come almost near the end of the first act, courtesy Ida the maid, played by Karen Wood.
“From day one, our director Marcia Kash said to keep it real,” Wood says. “It may not have seemed totally real to you or the audience, but in our world, on stage, whatever we’re doing, if you play it for real, that’s where the comedy lies. We’re in unbelievable situations and because we’re playing it for real, that’s what makes it funny. If you go for stupid, it’s not nearly as funny.”
“You try to walk on and be debonaire and in control,” says Paul McQuillan, who plays a smooth soldier visiting an old friend, “and that all goes away very quickly in this melody of craziness that happens on stage. You think you’re insane like everyone else is. That’s the premise of the piece. You start with your sanity and then you question it.”
If looking like a comedian helps make one funny, Clive Walton is a step ahead of his castmates. Walton resembles Rowan Atkinson, better known as Mr. Bean.
“My kids sometimes tell me I look like him,” Walton admits. “He’s a bit shorter. I wish I were as successful and rich as he is, though.”
As Reverend Lionel Toop, Walton is the centre of the confusion after he is attacked by a Soviet spy on the loose from the local air base. Performing in a play set in war-time England, Walton need not learn a new accent: he’s a recent immigrant to Canada.
“I just came over about five years ago. I don’t know how I ended up here. I didn’t know where Grand Bend was. I must admit I’d never heard of it. But it’s lovely. It’s like the Mediterranean going down to the beach.”
Back in the theatre, McQuillan admits the actors often didn’t know how they ended up where their characters were.
“When we were in rehearsals,” McQuillan notes, “we had to ask each other questions to make sure we were all on the same page. ‘Do I know that this person’s in the closet right now? Who do I think is Rev. Toop right now?’ Sometimes nobody had the answer, and you’d connect the dots.”
That, to Wood, is the secret to the success of the play’s humour.
“There’s lots of embarrassment and frustration and that’s real life.”