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Friday, February 4, 2011

Review: MöcShplat

Top to bottom: Marcel Jeannin, Danielle Desormeaux, Michel Perron (Photo credit: Julian Haber)

Is This a Dogfish I See Before Me?
MöcShplat is Shakespeare like you’ve never seen him
by Amy Barratt

You thought a one-man Hamlet was messing with the classics? That was nothing compared to a four-clown send-up of the Scottish play. 
Geordie Productions, into its 30th year and flirting with theatre for grownups, has brought back MöcShplat, Clowns Gone Bad’s collective creation dating back to 1997. It’s playing at Centaur Theatre this weekend and next with  daytime performances through the week for highschool groups.

The kids are going to have a blast. This is an adaptation of Shakespeare by a group of people who know the original material very well but aren’t afraid to throw 90% of it out and just riff on what’s left.

It’s rare to see any show as fully realized as this one is.

The cast is so good it’s hard to keep your jaw from dropping. You can call what comes out of their mouths gibberish, but it is actually a very precise, very simple common language that all four actors have mastered. What’s astonishing is how quickly key concepts are conveyed to the audience and how everything, just as quickly, makes perfect sense—whether you know the original play or not. 

An opening sequence set in a clown version of 1950s suburbia, with lots of cocktails and big band samba selections, soon gives way to kilts and hobby horses and weapons shaped like fish.

As the MacB’s, it’s great to see Marcel Jeannin and Danielle Desormeaux (The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine) back together again in a clown piece. It’s not that they’re not good in straight parts, but seeing them in a clown piece you realize that putting them in anything else is like asking a singer with five octaves to stick to the one in the middle. John Sheridan and Michel Perron also do some great physical acting here. The final swordfight between Jeannin’s MöcShplat and Sheridan’s Döff is a taxing (for the performers) and thoroughly satisfying piece of choreography.

It’s rare to see any show as fully realized as this one is. The company is hoping the Geordie run will launch a cross-Canada tour and then maybe on to Europe. It would be interesting to discover if there’s any place on earth this show wouldn’t be hilarious.  
Geordie is not recommending the show for anyone under 12. Younger kids with a lot of theatergoing experience might be fine. There is, however,  quite a lot of hak hak hak and bright red wool signifying blood and guts—vestigial reminders that this play was once a tragedy. 

Demand for tickets has been great enough that an extra performance has been added this Sunday at 7 p.m. Of course, what with a certain football game going on at that time, those seats aren’t selling as quickly as might be hoped, so Geordie is offering $10 tickets for the February 6th evening performance only. All you have to do is say the secret word “Superbowl” when you call the box office at 514-845-9810.

After you see it, maybe you can explain to me how at one point the actors spoke gibberish with British accents,  and it was obvious that they were?

Möcshplat details
Running time: 80 minutes


  1. I really hope this tight show gets some cross-Canada sensation going. LOVED it!


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