Director Michael Chaplin uses the discreet phrase: “scatalogical humor.”
His producer, Marilyn Tempest, speaks much more plainly.
“This play contains thermonuclear levels of flatulence jokes,” she said.
“But there’s no profanity,” said Chaplin.
“But plenty of idiocy,” Tempest replied, immediately.
And just that tidbit of conversation ABOUT a play, reveals all the funny tension OF the play — about masculinity and tradition and, yes, moonshine. Oh, and some porcupine urine.
So expect some fart funnies, and plenty of other manly humor in Marathon Community Theatre’s current production of “Escanaba in Da Moonlight.” The curtain goes up on Thursday, May 10, with performances continuing through Friday, May 18.
The show stars all our favorites — Brian Witte is fabulous as the patriarch of the family; Devin Clarke, his eldest son, is the one who has yet to shoot a buck (this is a big, sensitive, purple-pulsing plot point); Marty Dillis plays Remnar, the other son, and he is disgustingly funny in all the right ways; and Jim Kelly plays the wildly unbalanced Jimmer Negamanee, a hunter and family friend. Also making appearances are Norma Jean Kelly as Wolf Moon Dance, a psychic and wife to the eldest son, and Jerry Nussenblatt as the slightly off-kilter forest ranger.
The two-act play is set in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) and becomes almost a character in and of itself for the distinct personalities of the so-called “Yoopers” of Michigan, and their singular way of speaking.
The set is rustic-hunting-camp to perfection, from the mason jars of moonshine to the bunk bed and the vintage photo of the best family hunter on self-authored record. The fully realized set is exciting to see, as this is the first full production at MCT since Hurricane Irma did its best to wreck the stage. Chaplin, in addition to directing, is responsible for the set design. He has some parallels to draw between the big hunting trip traditions and the Keys’ fishing addiction.
“I know guys that won’t go out fishing unless they have that one specific lure onboard; even if it doesn’t come out of the tackle box, they have to have it in their bags,” Chaplin said.
Although he’s a veteran of the stage, this is Chaplin’s first time in the director’s chair. Naturally, he has a new appreciation for the role.
“It’s been an interesting experience on this side of the stage,” he said. “And Boomer (Jim Kelly) and Devin (Clarke) have been a tremendous help.”
The show runs Thursday to Saturday, May 10-12 and Thursday and Friday, May 17-18. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. Visit www.marathontheater.org or call 305-743-0994 to purchase.