Should any unsuspecting opera fans purchase tickets to Theatre Inconnu’s production of Falstaff, with the intentions of taking in Pacific Opera Victoria’s upcoming production by the same title, they would certainly be in for a surprise. And so will those audience members who do not heed the alternative theatre company’s warning: this show contains adult content. But it’s impossible to tell the tale of Falstaff, Robert Nye’s Guardian Fiction Prize-winning novel, without getting a little raunchy and Clayton Jevne committed to the task.
Jevne, Inconnu’s long-time artistic director adapted and performed the work, which follows the escapades of Falstaff, a character Nye created from Shakespeare’s dirty scoundrel of the same name, and the historical figure Sir John Fastolf, whose writings chronicled battles of the Hundred Years War.
Did the merits of Jevne’s masterful memorization and ultimately believable portrayal outweigh any connection lost by the onslaught of Nye’s dirty bits at the outset of the one-hander? Certainly by the second half when he revealed a more sympathetic side of the buffoon without losing his bawdy edge. And while it proved a challenge to keep the audience on side through cracks at pedophilia – a feat regardless of how ridiculous the clown delivering the gag – even the cruder lines managed to evoke chuckles. History geeks and Shakespeare fans interested in some blue comedy may find Falstaff a perfect fit – as will anyone seeking a reminder of what separates alternative theatre from the mainstream.
Falstaff continues at Theatre Inconnu (1923 Fernwood) Oct. 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18 and 19 at 8pm and Oct. 12, 13 and 19 at 2pm. Tickets are $14 / $10 Students, Seniors, and the unwaged. Oct. 9 is pay-what-you-can, ticketrocket.org or 250-590-6291.