Hilary Omoe and Ruby Bullock form one household of two-time John Smith whose double life sees another scene just like this one develop between Peter Macleod and Susanne Haslund.

Heating up for festival season in the Okanagan

Kelowna Theatre Society to stage top playwright's contemporary play Caught in the Net

  • Apr. 25, 2013 5:00 p.m.

Two families, one whopping lie and a run to secure an Ozone crown.

If Caught in the Net proves one thing, it will be that sometimes adultery does net a man a winning spot in life—at least this is what Joe Welton is hoping.

“I’m going for a second best actor,” said Welton, who won his first best actor award at the Okanagan Ozone Drama Festival last year for another Theatre Kelowna Society role.

Welton is a board member with the society and among those on the script committee that chose Caught in the Net, which opened in the Black Box Theatre last night, for “the Ozone spot.” This is a particularly special run on the TKS roster, set aside each year for these amateur actors to go to the the local drama festival and put their best foot (or broken leg) forward.

And while Welton is kidding around a little with his boast, it’s no joke that a win at OZone can boost a troupe’s performance prospects. The winning entry goes on to Kamloops to perform at the Theatre BC Mainstage Festival where theatre groups from around the province showcase their talent and hone their craft.

And the high-paced, action-oriented selection TKS has made this year just might take them all the way through this dramatic circuit.

Welton plays Stanley, a boarder or lodger as he would be called in London. He lives in one of two households the character John Smith has simultaneously built, creating a rather repugnant double life in which neither family knows of the other.

The great caper begins to unfold in a high-paced, action comedy that sees his teenage daughter from one household meet his teenage son from the other home online.

Stanley, a simple man, tries to assist in the coverup by telling several lies that he himself can’t keep track of and, when his father enters the picture, an elderly man with dementia who believes the entire time that he is at the seaside, hilarity ensues.

Caught in the Net is the sequel to Run for Your Wife, which became playwright Ray Cooney’s first crossover from stage to film after a nine-year run in London’s West End. With 22 plays to his name, all British farce-style comedies Cooney has become one of the leading playwrights in the world, earning a continual stream of praise for his wit.

Buzz Shuttleworth plays John Smith and said the part has been a gas to develop.

“The character himself is not a very likeable man but the role, I love the role because it’s a chance to be funny and a little bit hammy,” he said. “It’s a farce which depends on pushing the fourth wall, engaging the audience with the lengths to which (John) will go.”

One can imagine those must be some lengths. The children of these two households are, after all, old enough to have met online—Cooney’s first foray into writing about the Internet era when it was released in 2001—and appear to be attracted to one another.

Unfortunately for Shuttleworth, this means he too really does have to go to some lengths in order to bring the character to life.

“It’s quite challenging for a man of my advancing years because it’s very physical. The comedy is quick, very high energy and very high-paced,” he said.

Watch a scene or two and one finds he’s up, he’s down, he’s making more faces than an actor competing in theatre sports and all, rather ironically, to play a man with the most common name in Britain, someone one might assume would be rather boring.

Caught in the Net was brought to the society by Stephen Jefferys, who frequently works with Shakespeare Kelowna on everything from directing to staging and is a veteran of the Okanagan arts scene.

Caught in the Net is billed as a hilarious tangle of double entendres, locked doors, bizarre phone calls and near misses and runs April 25-27 and May 2-4 in Kelowna with matinée shows April 27 and 28 and May 4 and 5 at 2 p.m. It will then be staged at the Ozone Festival on May 15 in Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre where the Kelowna contingent are hoping to prove powerhouses themselves. Tickets are available online or the Prospera Place Box Office, 250-762-5050.

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