Slings and Arrows

"Slings & Arrows" is a Canadian TV series about theatre. To those of us who love theatre, whether as a performer or as an audience member, this one will be a satisfying (and hilarious!) treat.

The lead character (played by an absolutely yummy Canadian, Paul Gross) is the failed artistic director of a defunct shoestring theatre, closed by a landlord because his rent check bounced...again. His life is complicated by the fact that eight years earlier, during the third performance of his towering portrayal of Hamlet, he had jumped into Ophelia's grave and exited the theatre. He has spent seven of those intervening years in a mental institution. His Ophelia has soldiered on to a respectable career playing ever-older characters and becoming more and more diva'ish...

Gross saunters through this series in a Columbo-style raincoat, which is every bit as disreputable as Peter Falk's. His original theatre hires him back as a temporary artistic director when their current artistic director dies (you have to see it to believe it!). Our star, the deceased director and the (aging) actress had, before his breakdown, been an inseparable trio. His job is complicated by several things:
  • The theatre is looking for a permanent artistic director to replace him.
  • Our (formerly) inseparable trio still has "issues."
  • The ghost of the deceased director persists in appearing to our impoverished hero, telling him what to do, arguing with him about his interpretation of the current production of "Hamlet," and living with him in the prop room.
This show is peopled by folks you come very quickly to care about. The actress/diva has a penchant for (very) strapping young men, which creates a delightful subtext to the production events roiling around. Hamlet will be played by an American movie star with a huge following of teenagers. He was hired for his box office appeal, not his acting skills. I could go on and on.

The backstage interplay and rehearsals have an unmistakably authentic feel, most members of the cast (two of whom are also writers for the series) have a LOT of theatre experience. The portrayal of actors, with their egos, their insecurities, their impractical world-view, are all lovingly but accurately, depicted. (The tax audit is spot on!)

Season Two features "Macbeth" in all its gory glory...casting, rehearsing and performing.
Season Three focuses on "King Lear" with an aging "name" actor signed in a casting coup.

The only Canadian "face" you will recognize is Rachel McAdams in Season One, who is known to us from "The Notebook," "Mean Girls," "Wedding Crashers" and "Redeye." (All of which you wouldn't mind watching, by the way....) She is Ophelia's understudy who, naturally, is called upon to take to the boards when Ophelia breaks her leg...
I LOVE theatre!