In these dark and troubled times, people should be wary of dramatic stage plays. Hamlet's plight punctuates perhaps too perfectly the insanity of the modern age while, say, The Glass Menagerie is a bit too suggestive of the failures of capitalism. People already understand humanity's predicaments without having to visit this theme in our entertainment. People need to escape and Jersey Shore is only on once a week. They need an assortment of peculiar characters and clever writing to keep them amused. Laughter's a must and if they're supposed to cry, well, some whimsical swordplay better settle all that emotion.
So what do they need? They need "The Princess Bride."
Squamish's Between Shifts Theatre will bring the cult film classic to the Brackendale Art Gallery (BAG) for six nights in March. Purists in the crowd needn't worry about the theatre group butchering the film either, since the production is based verbatim on the screenplay.
That hasn't been easy. There were times when director Carla Fuhre swore the production would fail because adapting a film that relied so heavily on special effects on a limited budget has been one of the more trying challenges in her career as a stage director. This is the first time the film has been adapted to the stage and Fuhre admits she's walked headlong into darkness with this production.
"It's a very interesting challenge here but you know? What the heck," she says.
Whatever the outcome, it's bound to be amusing. Fuhre says the troupe has pared the production down to bare bones, with no gimmicks or special tricks or fancy sets. A little lighting, some clever set design and strong acting are all that holds this production together.
"It's going back to old theatre, you know?" she says. "It's kind of basic. There's a little bit of tongue in cheek in there. People have to take it with a grain of salt because they are so used to special effects in movies and all that. But theatre, to take it back to its root, this is what it's all about."
The fantasy-comedy film was based on the 1973 William Goldman novel and tells the story of a beautiful young woman, Buttercup, who is kidnapped days before she is set to marry the insufferable Prince Humperdink. The film was a modest success upon its 1987 release but has gained a steady cult following over the years and has been mandatory childhood viewing for decades now. Fuhre has been a fan all along and had wanted to bring the film to life for about 10 years.
"There's just something about that story," she says.
"It's appealing to so many people, even now. That movie's like 20-years old and you have people in their early 20s that love it and watch it."
She set out with the adaptation, knowing that the BAG, with its wide-open space and unique ambiance, would be the perfect venue for the characters to act out the film's fantastical scenes without the aid of an elaborate set. She approached the actors she knew could bring the film's characters to life.
"All that other stuff (set design and special effects) has to take a back seat," says Fuhre. "These guys really have to act. That's what theatres all about, and it's about everyone using their imaginations, including the audience."
That audience will cap at 80 people per night. Tickets are selling fast, so whoever's interested in escaping the droll realities of our common existence for about two hours in March should jump on buying tickets now.