Director Marcia Kash cleverly turns traditional British farce into entertaining example of self-aware meta-theatre

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In the first act, One For The Pot — which opened Thursday at the Huron Country Playhouse — is a fairly standard British farce.

After the intermission, things take a turn for the self-reflexive and the show becomes a piece of meta-theatre.

That’s the moment when the real laughs begin.

It’s one thing to wink at the audience. It’s another when the actors break character and address us directly.

It’s director Marcia Kash’s way of letting ticket-buyers know the cast and crew are in on the joke and, in this case, judging by the peals of laughter around me, it also took this comedy about a much-schemed-for inheritance that takes place on a set that evokes Downton Abbey to a higher place.

I admit I was worried.

I thought One For The Pot was going to be the kind of play that could come with a warning along the lines of “Beware: This farce contains slapstick, a man dressed as a woman, mistaken identities, wordplay, lawyer jokes, exaggerated staggering, stuttering, characters getting hit on the head and groaners.”

It does have all of that, but Kash’s decision to reach out beyond the stage makes it into something else, a self-aware work that erases the wall between actor and audience.

So do yourself a favour and stay for the second act.

The cast, including Tim Funnell as shady solicitor Charlie Barnet and Eddie Glen as the omnipresent Billy Hickory Wood, do a standout job of making the material as universal as possible.

There’s something about the sound of a gong, signifying an offstage character has been clocked on the noggin, that transcends cultures. And jokes about abstract art being weird will never go out of fashion.

I was doubly worried that One For The Pot wouldn’t play very well with Southwestern Ontario theatregoers, who don’t necessarily bring with them an appreciation for the differences in British accents, for the nuance of jokes like:

Charlie: Where’s her ear?

Billy: She’s sitting on it.

One For The Pot is another great example of late-summer theatre.

Just when it seems the real world can get no more ridiculous, it’s good to sit in the air-conditioned comfort and be reassured the lunatics aren’t running the asylum, they are in their proper place — on stage.

By subverting our expectations, the team behind One For The Pot takes what could have been run-of-the-mill material and makes it new again.

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What: One For The Pot, British farce presented by Drayton Entertainment

When: Until Sept. 2

Where: Huron Country Playhouse II, 70689 B Line, Grand Bend

Tickets: Tickets are $46 for adults, $27 for youth under 20. Contact the box office at 1-855-372-9866 or visit for tickets, times and packages.

Rating: HHHH (out of five)

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