The shenanigans of college gents
Theatre in the Country, for its fifth anniversary, will present the British farce Charley’s Aunt.
College friends Charley Wykeham and Jack Chesney are in love with Amy Spettigue and Kitty Verdun, but need a chaperone to meet with the girls and ask for their hands in marriage.
When Charley discovers that a Brazilian aunt, Donna Lucia d’Alvadorez, he hardly knows is coming over for lunch, the boys decide this is their chance.
They invite the girls over, as well, but things don’t go as planned.
The aunt is a no-show and they convince a friend, Lord Fancourt Babberley, to impersonate the chaperone for the meeting instead.
Then an angry uncle shows up and just as he is about to ruin everything, it is discovered that aunt Donna might be looking for a husband, as well, and the uncle turns on the charm.
The play was written by Brandon Thomas and opened at the Royalty Theatre in London on Dec. 21, 1892, moving to the bigger Globe Theatre on Jan. 30 1893 for a record-breaking run during that period of 1,466 performances.
“Charlie’s Aunt is a essentially a love story, it’s about relationships,” explained Joshua Osborne, who plays Jack in the play.
“Jack is a go-getter and he is the ideas man. He is the touchstone of the play. All the excitement and everything sort of revolves around him,” said Osborne.
It is the story about three friends who work for each other, but also push against one another, as well.
“It’s a nice picture of friendship and how those relationships work,” said the 24-year-old actor, who has been with Theatre in the Country for three years.
He was the musical director in Miracle on 34th Street, which theatre company put on this past Christmas.
Jack’s servant Brasset at Oxford University is played by Jamie Umpleby.
Brassett helps the boys prepare for the luncheon.
“I just like the shenanigans that college gents, as they call them, the shenanigans and the goings-on from back in that era at college,” said Umpleby.
“It’s different. You have to have a chaperone when meeting girls. Everybody’s properly dressed and carries themselves properly. It’s very sophisticated,” he continued.
Umpleby has been with Theatre in the Country for two years and only started acting after he was asked to play a bit part in It’s A Wonderful Life two years ago. Prior to that, he was in the show choir.
“I really enjoy acting, period. Either comedy or serious roles, I’m kind of torn. I enjoy doing comedy because you can ad lib a little more in comedy,” said Umpleby.
Umpleby also likes the way the theatre is set up in Theatre in the Country.
The stage is a thrust stage that juts out into the audience.
“When you are performing, you are actually performing in the middle of the audience,” said Umpleby.
“You have to move around constantly,” he said.
But, it makes for an enjoyable and rewarding experience for the audience.
“You almost feel like you are part of the play,” he added.
Charley’s Aunt runs from Feb. 2-18 at Theatre In The Country, 9975 – 272 Street in Maple Ridge. It will also be running from Mar. 2-11 at Theatre In The Grove, 20025 – 91 A Ave. in Langley.
Tickets options include the full dinner theatre or theatre only tickets. For more information call 604-259-9737 or go to theatreinthecountry.com.