Monday, January 03, 2011

Slings and Arrows: Season 1 episodes 1-3

Thanks to a colleague (Cheers Anthony!) I've been put onto a series from about 7 years ago called Slings and Arrows ---
Slings and Arrows is a Canadian TV series, set at the fictional New Burbage Festival; a troubled Shakespearean festival similar to the real-world Stratford Festival. The program stars Paul Gross, Stephen Ouimette and Martha Burns.
The blackly comic series produced three seasons of six episodes and was created and written by former Kids in the Hall member Mark McKinney, playwright and actress Susan Coyne, and comedian Bob Martin, the Tony-award winning co-creator of The Drowsy Chaperone. All three appear in the series as well.

I'd sort of vaguely heard of it, partly because I'd spotted it on the CV of Rachel McAdams (Time Traveller's Wife; Guy Ritchie's actually rather enjoyable Sherlock Holmes) and partly because it starred Paul Gross (Due South).

Knowing I'm rather fond of a bit of Shakespeare, Anthony thought I'd enjoy it and loaned me a copy of the first series on Region 1 DVD: sadly, my DVD player is one of the only ones in existence NOT to have a Region hack.

Still: YouTube comes in handy sometimes!

I've just spent the morning watching the first three episodes and chuckling loudly (Neil was next door busy on his computer) - for there is MUCH to delight in this series. As a behind the scenes portrayal of acting (especially Shakespearean acting) and the world of theatre, it is hilarious - aging actors, young actors, corporate sponsors, the use of Shakespeare in corporate training, prima donna adventurous directors, old rivalries, Hollywood incomers... brilliantly skewered.

It's highly recommended, either on DVD or elsewhere!


Persephone said...

You've just discovered this now? It was a topic of discussion on Marie's blog nearly three years ago! :-)

I gatherThe Drowsy Chaperone had a lukewarm response in London. I saw a production in Ottawa last fall and didn't think a spoof could be so heartbreaking at the same time.

Slings and Arrows is especially funny for those of us who have been to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario (the Burbage Festival is a not-at-all disguised fictional counterpart), but it's not essential. This features a good chunk of the distinguished actors in Canada; I had the pleasure of seeing Stephen Ouimette in Ottawa last Christmas.

My favourite of the three seasons is the third, and I often stroll around the house singing the different theme songs from each series: ♪It's so nice to take a walk in the rain (without your clothes on)...♫ Not that I do, she hastens to add...

Might I also recommend Kingfisher Days by Susan Coyne (who's a first cousin to the mother of Pierre Elliot Trudeau's love child)? It's a delightful book; Susan Coyne herself reads the audio version, and she produced a successful play based upon it.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Yes, Persephone, I am officially RUBBISH (and have the memory of a colander clearly!) but yes I am heartily enjoying this.

I'll have to dig back in Marie's blog and see what I said there! (if anything!)

Toby O'B said...

This is one of those shows where I envy those seeing it for the first time; that's an experience you only get once.

The first season is my favorite and without giving anything away, the season finale is one of the few times in my TV viewing where I was on the edge of my seat and actually pumping my fist in the air. The only other time I can remember doing that is in the 'West Wing' episode where the staff all affirmed that they serve at the pleasure of the President. (Sort of an "I am Spartacus" moment for me.)


Rob said...

Slings and Arrows sounds great fun. I have a region hack so will hunt for it.

I'm very fond of Branagh's In The Bleak Midwinter too, which manages pretty much every Hamlet-related joke possible.