Umbrella Talk with playwright Rex Deverell

In this week's Umbrella Talk, Rex Deverell gives us answers that are short but oh so sweet.

A Little More About Rex Deverell

Rex Deverell is an award winning playwright - a librettist, a poet, and a sometime actor, He was Regina’s Globe Theatre Resident Playwright from 1974-1990 where he wrote prolifically for both the main stage and for young audiences.

He has also held playwright residencies at The Blyth Theatre Festival and the University of Windsor, He is currently an associate artist with Mixed Company Theatre in Toronto.

His work has won the Canadian Authors Association Medal, a Chalmers Award, the Ohio State Award, and a Major Armstrong Award. He is a member of the McMaster University Honour Society, the McMaster Alumni Gallery, the Saskatchewan Theatre Hall of Fame, and he is a life member of the Guild of Canadian Playwrights.

He has also worked as a librettist with a number of Canadian composers including Elizabeth Raum, Quentin Doolittle, and Andrew Ager.

Highlights include a Japanese production of his play “Boiler Room Suite” in Tokyo, a gala performance of “Prairie Wind” before Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in Regina, and the tour of the Banff production of the opera “Boiler Room Suite” in Wales and England.

What do you drink on opening night?

Who would direct the coolest production of one of your plays?
Any (or all) of the following: Cecil B. DeMille, Mother Teresa, Tim Burton, The Creator of the Universe, Samuel Becket, Djanet Sears.

What scares you? What can't you write about?
I'm too scared to answer this question.

What do you want to write about that you haven't yet?
My (now deceased) father. (Sorry, Dad)

If someone was to write a play about your life, what genre would it be? (eg. comedy, tragedy, melodrama, horror)

How do you deal with praise?
Humble gratitude.

With criticism?

Seething bitterness.

Where would you like your work to be produced?

Where do you write?

In the heat of passion, in the State of Denial, in the Country of Looming Deadlineblivion.

Pen or keyboard?

Both, although not simultaneously.

What would you like academics to write about your work in 50 years?
Whimsy did him in.

What inspires you?
A really good question! (Seriously, I'm inspired by really good questions.)

A few reviews from Rex's latest, Les Miserable Old Guys

“You'd better be sure to plan carefully to see this gem.

There was a full house of very appreciative patrons on just the second afternoon of the Fringe. Only one of these old guys is miserable; and, man, Ed has curmudgeon down to an art form! His more mellow neighbour, Charlie, tells him that Ed's late wife Alma thought him "the unhappiest man in the world!"

Charlie finds magical moments in the mundane while Ed lives "a life of pure irritation and annoyance." This contrast of temperaments between two men who have lived next door to each other almost their whole lives is absolutely hilarious! It is not a comedy throughout, as a secret emerges that causes the two old men to expose their hearts to each other in a deeply touching way. Plus a surprise ending! Superb theatre.
Lisa Campbell
(The Jenny Review)

4.5 stars from 107.1 FM.
Les Miserable Old Guys (Venue 2) by Rex Deverell

Brilliant! Admittedly I had incredibly high expectations and was concerned that because of this it would end up being like Spiderman 3.... dead to me. But Rex Deverell and Harry Nelken took the entire room (which was ironically packed with seniors) from gut-wrenching laughter to somber silent reflection and back again. It was played to perfection, and the one word review is worth repeating twice.. brilliant!

Possible objectional words/phrases: 4

Who should see this show?
If you like the movie Grumpy Old Men, you'll love Les Miserable Old Guys.

Les Miserable Old Guys
Venue 2, MTC Up the Alley
By Meryl Kaye De Leon

They may be miserable, but not for long.

Charlie (Rex Deverell) and Eddie (Harry Nelken) are two lonely, aging seniors who seem to share just about everything — from shovels and coffee to Eddie’s deceased wife Elma. Separated by an incredibly short fence, eternal optimist Charlie is the only one to provide comfort and companionship to pessimist Eddie as he tries to come to terms with Elma’s death.

This wonderfully written play by Deverell explores the depth of human relationships. Directed by Stefanie Wiens, Deverell and Nelken give flawless performances that make you think about how you’re going to be at that age. But don’t worry — Les Miserable Old Guys also provides more than enough laughs to keep you from being miserable.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll even shorten your fence to talk to your neighbour afterward.