"Absolutely addictive" The New York Times
"One of televisions best" San Francisco Chronicle
"Struts and frets . . . delightfully" Time
In its second season, the smash hit Canadian comedy about a struggling Shakespearean theatre troupe explores the conflicts of middle age and rebranding: Am I who I want to beor not to be?
Now ensconced as artistic director of the New Burbage theatre festival, Geoffrey (Paul Gross) must stage the cursed play Macbeth to fulfill the vision of his deceased predecessor Oliver (Stephen Ouimette). The actor cast in the lead (Geraint Wyn Davies) engages in a titanic clash of egos with Geoffrey, while Oliver weighs in confrontationally from the grave. The festival faces a financial crisis that forces its CEO (Mark McKinney) to engage in some risky business, while leading lady Ellen (Martha Burns) endures a life-altering tax audit. Adding to the mayhem is the return of the madcap guest director Darren Nichols (Don McKellar), who stages a post post-modern Romeo and Juliet after the original director breaks her neck. Could it be the curse of Macbeth?
As seen on the Sundance Channel.
Its amazing what can happen in the theatre. Dramas unfold, epic stories and indelible characters are formed, battles are fought, lovers wooed and spurned, and every once in a while, a play is actually performed. And so Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross) is back as the Artistic Director of the New Burbage Theatre Festival for a second season of the backstage machinations and on stage drama that is Slings and Arrows
. After a triumphant first season
that revolved around the staging of Hamlet
, season two uses Macbeth
, one of Shakespeares most difficult and cursed plays, as the central device for this seasons plots lines. Things begin close to where they left off in season one. As the last performance of Hamlet
winds up a mysterious old woman, in witch-like fashion, practically dares Geoffrey to undertake Macbeth
, and her ominous tone makes it clear it wont be easy. The lead actor (Geraint Wyn Davies) engages Geoffrey in a titanic clash of egos, with the ghost of Oliver (Steven Ouimette) continuing to weigh in from beyond the grave. The rest of last seasons stellar cast returns including Rachel McAdams, leading woman Ellen (Martha Burns), and the excellent Mark McKinney as scheming/bumbling CEO Richard Smith-Jones. The return of guest director Darren Nichols (Don McKellar) to stage a post post-modern Romeo and Juliet
provides many of this seasons best moments, and shows the hilarious side of what happens when artistic imagination and exuberance outpace artistic ability.
Slings and Arrows was conceived as a set of three seasons. Where Season 1 focused on disillusioned youth, Season 2 "tackles the conflicts of middle age and rebranding," said executive producer Niv Fichman. The success of the first season afforded the show a larger budget, and so the original cast returned and a bevy of strong newcomers (including Wyn Davies, Colm Feore, and Diane DAquila) along with enhanced production values, were added. The result is a season that builds upon the high standard set in the first one. The writing continues to be some of the best on television; the characters are intriguing without being precious, and the dialog continues to snap with the kind of wit that ordinary sit-coms painfully lack. You dont have to have been in the theatre to get drawn into this world, but if you happen to have been an actor or ever worked on the stage, these characters will be familiar
some of them probably a little too familiar. Its good to see that a strong debut has led to an even stronger continuation. --Daniel Vancini