A lesson on how to work the system

What do you do if you've been mistaken for a prestigious government official? You milk the situation for all it's worth. That's what the central character in the Guild Theatre's latest production, the Man from the Capital does.

What do you do if you’ve been mistaken for a prestigious government official?

You milk the situation for all it’s worth.

That’s what the central character in the Guild Theatre’s latest production, the Man from the Capital does.

The Guild musical riffs on an age-old theme of corrupt politicians who behave badly.

It’s based on a Russian play written by Nikolai Gogol in 1836 called The Government Inspector.

Canadian playwright Colin Heath lifted the story from its original tsarist Russian setting and dropped it in fictional Salmon Elbow, British Columbia, during the Depression. John Millard adds the music.

“It takes place in an isolated hick town,” said director Todd Duckworth. He admits the made-up-name “kind of takes the mickey out of Salmon Arm.”

Before Gogol even wrote the play he had been itching to write a comedy based on an authentic Russian anecdote. That’s when he came upon a story from fellow writer, Alexander Pushkin, who was himself mistaken by a corrupt mayor as a visiting government official.

Using the situation to his advantage, Pushkin tries to woo the mayor’s daughter while the mayor’s wife insists on flirting with him.

Gogol toyed with that idea to a create a piece that satirizes unscrupulous Russian officials.

“Our play is a bit less cynical and lighter than Gogol’s,” said Duckworth.

But it’s still just as relevant, he added.

It may not be a real story, but it’s one that could very well have happened here in Canada.

“We still read constantly of people in power lining their pockets with government money,” he said.

In the Man from the Capital, the town of Salmon Elbow is falling apart and vagrants and hobos line the streets.

The mayor and his cronies use government money to build a giant pig to attract tourists instead of constructing what the town really needs, an orphanage.

That’s when a tramp is mistaken for a government inspector who has come to investigate the situation.

Worried about what the inspector might do, the mayor literally stuffs the tramp’s pockets with money and lets his lusty wife at him.

But the gig only lasts so long, hinted Duckworth.

The show is the second time Duckworth has been involved in a production of the Man from the Capital.

The first time, he played the mayor in a 2002 Caravan Theatre production of the show. That was followed by a reprisal of the role in 2007 for the opening of the Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa where he lives.

Coming from Ottawa to direct the play came with its own bit of comedy, said Duckworth.

“There was a joke among the cast that I’m the man from the capital coming here to direct a show called the Man from the Capital,” he said with a laugh.

The Whitehorse version of the musical will be slightly different than the one Duckworth acted in a few years ago. That’s because the director must contend with the smaller Guild Theatre space.

It’s especially a challenge because of the large cast of 24 actors and on-stage musicians, many of whom share the stage at the same time.

Actor Eric Epstein, who has known Duckworth since they met in theatre school, plays the role of the malevolent mayor. It will be his last role as artistic director for the Guild.

Other performers include Bronwyn Jones, Carrie Anne Bruton, Doug Mayr and Roy Ness.

The show features Kim Barlow on banjo, Bryden Baird on trumpet, Graham Peters on pump organ and Colleen McCarthy on euphonium.

The Man from the Capital runs until April 24 at the Guild Theatre. Shows are at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 and $20.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Yukon Liquor Corporation delays plans to hike booze prices

After business owners raised concerns the corporation says it will go back and consult on changes

Yukon chooses Dempster fibre line route

“We needed this last piece”

RRDC to require non-Kaska hunters in Ross River area to get special permit

People hoping to hunt in Ross River area this season need a permit from the Ross River Dena Council

New routes top priority for Whitehorse transit plan

Full Sunday service still off the table, though plan proposes pilot project

City mulls replacing Handy Bus with taxi vouchers

‘Whitehorse Transit must take steps to provide a sustainable solution’

Missing Oregon family found after possibly getting lost on purpose

Officials say family of four was found near Dease Lake after their vehicle was apparently abandoned

Yukon Roller Girls, North Coast Nightmares face off at Scar Wars

‘Our jammers had to work a little bit harder than they’re used to’

Big Cruise doubles down on the Skagway cruise market

The world’s largest leisure travel company is doubling down on the Skagway… Continue reading

Neighbours slam proposed Copper Ridge townhouses

Property values, parking cited as cause for concern

New Wolf Creek accessible trail nears completion

‘It’s a totally different trail and they barely touched anything’

Competition topples Tippy Mah’s Whitehorse condo plans

Work suspended on 44-unit project after pre-sales fall short

One-day event focuses on Yukon housing woes

Territory suffers from low vacancy rate, aging rental stock

Mosquito Enduro-X kickstarts racing season

‘It’s fun, family-type racing and it gets the kids out and riding’

Most Read