Asked by an audience member whether director Andrew Cooper and playwright George Johnson conspired with the universe to bring Mockus to life in today's political context, laughter ensued throughout Pavilion Theatre.
The Chimera Theatre production about a mayor inspired by a clown to change how he approaches the problems of his city -- he replaces corrupt traffic cops with mimes, for example -- revealed a political optimism that so obviously contrasts with some of the hateful rhetoric coming out of Washington as of late.
It was "random," insisted Cooper.
"I wrote it during the Harper regime," Johnson said, eliciting more laughs.
Chimera Theatre presented the production's world premiere on Wednesday night at the intimate venue in downtown Kamloops. It continues through Saturday night.
Written by Johnson, Thompson Rivers University's chair of English and modern languages, he was among audience members for the first public viewing of his work. He was thrilled with the end result, expressing so on stage with the cast when the show wrapped up with a one-night-only question-and-answer period.
One question from within the play resonated: "What if?"
What if we got rid of pollution? What if we got rid of cars? What if we did so just some of the time?
"We'll give them all bicycles," said Mockus, played by Brittany McCarthy.
It's leading with solutions, not problems -- the central theme of the political commentary.
McCarthy learned clowning for her role and later revealed she's afraid of them, likely stemming from watching Stephen King's thriller It during her childhood. I was unable to figure out the magic behind two metal rings she flawlessly combined and pulled apart. Her colourful personality bounced around on stage, a stark contrast to the mayor (played by Todd Sullivan) and quite literally the white fabric set behind her.
Morgan Benedict added more colour on stage for her role as the mayor's daughter, Sofia Antonio, with emphatic shrieks, adorable giggles and several laughs.
Sullivan himself was a bit cheeky -- both as the mayor reluctant to change, but also in pulling down his pants to moon the audience in the final scene before intermission.
Josh Sunderman, who played Paredes, began at Thompson Rivers University, performed as part of the Rivertown Players and is now with Chimera, seemingly embodying the core idea Cooper had for the theatre company in bridging the gap between student acting and professional theatre.
Also of note, dancing in the show -- Cooper called it expressionism theatre -- was bold. While sometimes it was distracting, it added to other scenes and helped transition set changes. I'm specifically alluding to a chair-dancing routine that rivalled any 1990s Backstreet Boy music video I've ever seen.