Out and About
“The Wild Guys” – a play about four guys, and one weekend together – Oct 25 to Nov 3, 2019 (Toronto)
The Wild Guys is a Canadian comedy about four very different middle-aged men who end up on weekend getaway together in the bush. Their reasons for being there may differ, but as the weekend progresses, walls get broken down and communication begins to flow, we discover that their needs aren’t so different after all.
For the stage. When four men set off to find an isolated cabin in the forest on a “wildman” weekend, a la Robert Bly, everything that can go wrong does! Andy, a men’s movement advocate, and Robin, a crystal-gazing New Ager, coax Stewart, an unsuspecting grocer, and Randall, a skeptical, city lawyer, into reluctantly participating in male-bonding ceremonies and communal hugs. The result? Hockey cheers and Neil Young singalongs! This play is a satire on men’s self-help encounters of the type made famous by drum-beating poet Robert Bly and the new-age, touchy-feely movement that supported it.
Sometimes the experience of going to a theatre production is as exciting as the play itself, especially if it’s being staged at a venue you’ve never been to before. Such was the case with this show. I had never been to The Papermill Theatre, which is located in Toronto’s east end on Pottery Road, alongside the Don Valley Parkway. The space was actually once a working papermill, and many of the original structures are still be used as heritage properties that are open to the public. There’s also a wonderful gallery space in the same building adjacent to the theatre, which provides for a great opportunity to visit before, after, or during intermission. There’s a great walking trail through the Don Valley marshlands as well.
As mentioned, this was my first time being to this theatre, and first time seeing an Eastside Players production. The non-profit community organization has been staging productions for over 50 years, and have been the Resident Theatre Company at this location since 1972. The intimate theatre holds about 100 patrons, making every seat a great seat. This is community theatre at its finest, no flashing lights, projections, or pyrotechnics, just simple theatrics made purely for enjoyment.
The Wild Guys lived up to this by offering two hours of comical interactions between four different men who are forced to be with each other, and thereby forced to understand each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. The first half of the production provides more laughs as the characters develop their personalities on stage, whereas the second half delves into deeper more serious issues that the men share among themselves. There are several one-off comical one-liners that break the seriousness, as after all it is a comedy, but there are several lessons to be learned as well, or at least brought to the forefront for possible discussion afterward.
Overall, it’s a great evening or afternoon of entertainment, and an opportunity to support this amazing theatre troupe so that they may continue putting on productions for years to come.
Andrew Wreggitt and his wife, Rebecca Shaw, have been writing plays together since 1991, when they wrote Ms. Lone Pine for Lunchbox Theatre in Calgary, Alberta. In 1992, Wreggitt and Shaw wrote The Wild Guys, a play about four men who, for very different reasons, wind up on a “men’s awareness weekend” in the bush. Andy, Robin, Randall and Stewart — guys for whom “hunting and gathering” means looking for the produce section at the grocery store — bring all their neuroses, hang-ups, blind spots and bald spots to a men’s weekend in which none of them has much genuine faith. What they discover, however, is that each of them is profoundly needy in some way and once the well-fortified doors to their psyches have been battered down, there’s no controlling what will happen next!
The Wild Guys was commissioned and developed by Lunchbox Theatre’s Stage One, The Petro-Canada Plays, in Calgary, Alberta and premiered in its one-act form in September 1992. It went on to be the Grand Prize Winner in the Canadian National Playwriting Competition (Ottawa); a Finalist in the Canadian National Playwriting Competition (Vancouver); and a Finalist for the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award from the Writers Guild of Alberta. Since then, The Wild Guys has been a hit with audiences in more than 100 professional theatres across North America, including the Arts Club, Vancouver, B.C.; Horizon Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia; Les Productions Avanti Plus, Montreal, Quebec (in French); and Theatre Aquarius, Hamilton, Ontario. It has been made into a feature film and continues to run in various theatres every year. It will appear in another French translation in the summer of 2014 in Quebec.
SHOW DATES: October 25, 26, 31, November 1, 2,, 7, 8, and 9 at 8:00pm. October 27, November 3 at 2:00pm.
*A Special Invitation – October 25, 2019
Opening Night and Wine and Cheese Reception – Same Price as a Regular Ticket
Following the performance, you’re invited to mingle with fellow theatre-goers, the cast and crew, at the complimentary Wine and Cheese Reception. This is a terrific chance to meet the people onstage and behind the scenes who make the magic happen!
TICKETS: Regular price $25 / Students $17.
VENUE: The Papermill Theatre at Todmorden Mills, 67 Pottery Road, Toronto, Ontario
Free Parking – Wheelchair Accessible
BOX OFFICE: (416) 425-0917 & online.
Upcoming Productions include Disgraced and Shakespeare in Love
About East Side Players
East Side Players is one of Toronto’s award-winning community theatre groups. Formed in 1967, when East York Players and Leaside Players joined forces. We’ve been engaging audiences for over 50 years. As a non-profit group, our mission is to provide a community service: by presenting engaging, affordable theatre in a comfortable space and by offering individuals a chance to develop their interests by taking part in productions. Shows are at the Papermill Theatre at Todmorden Mills in the heart of Toronto, where we have been the Resident Theatre Company since 1972.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.