Slings & Arrows

dvd coverSlings & Arrows
What’s not to love about a show whose opening song is titled “Cheer up, Hamlet!”? This a darkly comedic Canadian TV miniseries is about the New Burbage Theatre, smaller but very similar to Stratford, Ontario. At the heart of the show are three characters: Oliver (Stephen Ouimette), the jaded artistic director; Ellen (Martha Burns), the company’s lead actress, currently maintaining her youth with a string of much younger lovers; and Geoffrey Tenant (Paul Gross), director of a tiny and failing theater in Toronto. Seven years previously, these three were in an acclaimed production of Hamlet, Oliver directing and Ellen and Geoffrey playing the leads. In the middle of the third performance, Geoffrey went mad, jumping into Ophelia’s grave and then running away. At the end of the first episode, a very drunk Oliver calls Geoffrey to talk about the past. When Geoffrey refuses to talk to him, he falls down in the street and is run over by a truck labeled “Canada’s Best Hams.” Now, Geoffrey has been asked to be the interim artistic director and Oliver is haunting him. The current lead production is again Hamlet, and a young American action star has been asked to play the lead. We also follow a young apprentice actor, Kate, as perfectly winning an ingénue as you could ask for. Meanwhile, American executive Holly Day is convincing the already business-oriented financial director, Richard, that New Burbage would make a lot more money if it were transformed into a peppy and commercialized Shakespeareville. and I were flabbergasted by it all: the dark humor and snappy dialogue, the depth of the musings on theater and humanity, the sheer number of pots kept merrily bubbling at the same time. For those with theater backgrounds, this is absolute perfection. It’s also excellent TV.

About Katy K.

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
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