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Raunchy comedy examines a world without consequences

Once the warm-hearted Christmas season is over, Christopher Schulz and Christoff Lundgren plan to help folks shake off any lingering sweetness by staging a barbed, in-your-face comedy.

The two Red Deer-raised actors are performing their original play, The Strapping Young Lads, a raunchy two-acter that runs Friday and Saturday, Dec. 27, 28, at the Scott Block’s Centennial Stage.

Their profligate characters, Tom and Gary (who are jokingly named after the actors’ fathers) could have been inspired by the movie The Hangover or Hunter S. Thompson’s drug-fuelled Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas book.

Besides being strapping and young, the two “regular guys” in the play might also be considered wild and crazy — or even daft and debauched. “They’re pretty bad,” admitted Schulz, with a chuckle.

Tom and Gary naively buy into the belief that the world is ending, according to the Mayan calendar, on Dec. 21, 2012.

Realizing that whatever they do will have no consequences following the planet’s expiry date, the two embark on a Thelma and Louise-like road trip that starts off with a prank.

In the first act, originally written as a self-contained one-act play called Cut to the Chase, “Tom and Gary steal a prize-winning cake at a championship in Moose Jaw, Sask., and end up on the run from the law — and a mob of angry senior citizens,” summarized Schulz.

Unfortunately, a few people get trampled to death as the mob advances.

And the stakes for capturing the thieves suddenly get a lot higher.

In the second act, titled Apocalypse Soon, Tom and Gary have crossed the continent and turned into seriously bad dudes who arrive on a beach somewhere in the southern U.S. or Mexico. “They don’t even know where they are,” said Schulz.

“They have stolen drug money, killed people, punched children. ...” added Lundgren. “We’re not trying to call these people intelligent.”

While Lundgren doesn’t want to infer any serious messages exist in the 80-minute play that was purely written as comic entertainment, he said it’s part of the human condition to believe “if no one’s looking, you can do anything you want. You don’t have to worry about tomorrow.”

He and Schulz met as theatre students at Red Deer College and have often worked together since, despite Lundgren’s move to Vancouver and Schulz’s stint in Toronto, where the second act of this play premiered at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

The playwrights admit it received mixed reviews. “Basically, we were called bold actors who really went for the parts, and they said there was great comic writing, great physical comedy, and some good moments — but that the story needed work,” recalled Schulz.

He has since done revisions, including removing “in-jokes and some of our hamminess” to tighten up the story. Apocalypse Soon was also reworked to fit with Cut to the Chase, another one-act play that had been written for the same characters and previously ran as part of a well-received revue in Edmonton.

Schulz and Lundgren believe that both short plays work better as the two-act comedy The Strapping Young Lads.

“Both plays make each other better,” said Schulz, who relishes this chance to once again work with his friend Lundgren and to perform in front of a hometown crowd.

Schulz last played the Gentleman Caller in a production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie at Edmonton’s The Citadel Theatre. He is also a regular member of the local Bull Skit troupe, which is hosting the local run of The Strapping Young Lads.

Lundgren is artistic director of a weekly improvisational soap opera that’s staged live at a Granville Street venue in Vancouver.

Since both actors are home for the holidays, they decided to reprise their Tom and Gary characters in the hope that local audiences might be ready to move past the glitz and gloss of Christmas into a more darkly funny place.

The Strapping Young Lads will be shown twice nightly, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., on Dec. 27 and 28 at the Centennial Stage in the Scott Block (accessed from the alley). Tickets are $15 from or at the door.



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