Review: Scapino! farce a line-heavy lesson for committed Cowichan High actors

Scapino (Robyn Fortunat, right) bamboozles Argante (Finn Coogan) while waitress (Holly Moroz) takes their order, and bum Carlo (Kyle Mellson) shines Argante
Scapino (Robyn Fortunat, right) bamboozles Argante (Finn Coogan) while waitress (Holly Moroz) takes their order, and bum Carlo (Kyle Mellson) shines Argante's shoe during Cowichan High's farce Scapino!
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

A testy field of farce was bravely plowed by Cowichan secondary actors during Thursday's opener of Scapino! in Maple Bay's Neighbourhood Playhouse.

Director Roz Roome's cast produced droll results using the script by Frank Dunlop and Tim Dale.

CSS' play promises that "comedy is the greatest escape."

Maybe so, but Scapino! failed to get far on its laughs.

That's because farce is among the hardest genres to mount; it needs precise timing, expression and deft dialogue to deliver the intended humour.

That didn't happen often enough Thursday as the cast waded through a swamp of lines amid absurdist action and a sit-com plot set in Italy.

That said, Scapino! did have its moments, reflecting the character Scapin from commedia dell-arte times.

Scapino (Robyn Fortunat) depicted the witty rascal who befriended plenty of naive villagers while duping well-healed fathers Aragante (Finn Coogan) and Geronte (Myles Mellson) out of money by fibbing about the safety of their respective dandy sons: Ottavio (Liam Lindsay), and Leandro (Keygan Hankins).

As in 16th-century versions involving Scapin, Scapino slides from situation to situation in apparent but harmless selfishness.

As a lead, Fortunat's Scapino needed more vocal volume and expression to be really convincing.

So did Jay McDonnell in her turn as gypsy Zerbinetta.

Still, morals about gullibility, lying, egotism, and forgiveness poked through by play's end.

Standouts included Lindsay's jaunty Ottavio, Hankins' playboy Leandro, Mellson's Geronte, and Kyle Mellson's depiction of freeloading boozing bum, Carlo.

One funny scene saw Geronte squirm into a baggy, clothe sack to hide from various bad guys conjured by a salami-swinging Scapino.

Frogmen Ottavio and Leandro, waddling around in wetsuits, was comical too.

A cool touch came as females performed the Cup Song by tapping big plastic glasses, and clapping.

Ultimately, Cow High's Scapino! played like a nonsensical Shakespearean work of modest note.

Scapino! continues at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11 and 12, then Jan. 17 to 19 at 6759 Considine Ave., in the former Maple Bay school.

Farcial play rating: 7 sacks out of 10.

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