Absurd comedy meets political satire in this New West show

Douglas College is staging Switch Triptych, running Nov. 8 to 15 in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre

Absurd comedy meets political satire in the next Douglas College theatre production.

Students from the department of theatre are working with those in the stagecraft and event technology program to stage Switch Triptych, onstage Nov. 8 to 15 in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre.

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The play by Adriano Shaplin takes the audience back in time to a New York telephone exchange, circa 1919, as three Bell Atlantic “hello girls” grapple with the impending automation of their switchboards. A press release notes the play centres on Lucille, a first-generation Italian immigrant and “inebriated queen bee,” along with mild-mannered June, a British new hire who turns out to be a union rep at a time when America was very suspicious of labour organization, and Philippa, who rounds out the triptych of operators.

Attempting to keep the women in line are the luckless male managers, Andrew and Truman.

Tackling themes such as immigration, labour rights and automation, Switch Triptych remains relevant to the modern world, says director Deborah Neville.

“This playwright creates quite a mashup of time. He roots us in 1919 New York, with the unions rising, women taking more employment and the influx of immigrants, but he also cleverly interweaves modern references, quotes and even song lyrics,” Neville says. “He’s quite witty that way.”

Switch Triptych debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest in 2005, and now it’s being given a North American refresh by Neville for its Douglas College debut.

“Shaplin is an Italian playwright writing in Scotland. You can hear his Italian identity in the script, as well as the Protestant/Catholic battle that is prevalent in Scotland,” Neville notes. “I’ve taken out some of the religious debate in the script and instead focused on the protagonist Lucille’s internal struggle and her spiritual journey. I think this will resonate more succinctly for a Western Canadian audience.”

The cast includes Richard Chapman, Bryan Kazun, Dahlia-Raphael Kerr, Natalie Peters and Dominique Timofte.

Tickets are $20 general admission, or $10 for students and seniors, with special pricing for matinees and Talkback Tuesday performances.

The Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre is on the fourth floor north at Douglas College, 700 Royal Ave. For tickets, visit switchtriptych.bpt.me.

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