Red Deer’s Richard Beaune will be acting in the one-man show ‘The Commandment,’ by Phil Rickaby, at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival from Aug. 12 to 21. Another local resident, Lori Lane, will be directing. (Contributed photo)

Red Deer’s Richard Beaune will be acting in the one-man show ‘The Commandment,’ by Phil Rickaby, at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival from Aug. 12 to 21. Another local resident, Lori Lane, will be directing. (Contributed photo)

Red Deer actor will relay ‘message from God’ at Edmonton’s fringe festival

Richard Beaune appears in the one-man play ‘The Commandment’ Aug. 12-21

Richard Beaune will convey the Word of God through an open mic at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival while performing in the dark comedy, The Commandment.

Assuming the role of the reluctant prophet Thomas next month will be a titchy prospect for the Red Deer actor.

Beaune helped his friend Phil Rickaby write this play for Simple Truth Theatre Company about six years ago (“It was 90 per cent Phil and 10 per cent me,” says Beaune).

He also directed Rickaby in this one-man show for several Canadian fringe festivals, including the 2019 Toronto fringe festival, where it was named in the Best of Fringe.

Now Beaune is stepping into Thomas’ shoes when the play is restaged under the direction of Lori Lane from Aug 12 to 21 for the Edmonton fringe festival — and it’s a daunting prospect for him.

“What’s very challenging is the fact it’s so familiar,” Beaune admitted. His aim is to personally connect with the character of Thomas, instead of giving his impression of Rickaby in the role — which would be easy to do since he’s seen his friend’s performance many, many times.

Thomas “is so utterly down-to-earth” that he can ask audience members to deal with big life questions “without feeling they are being philosophical,” said Beaune.

The play’s synopsis is described as: “What would you do if you found out that God had chosen you to deliver His newest Commandment? What if you didn’t believe in God? His life in shambles, unwilling to be the mouthpiece for a god he refuses to believe in, Thomas crashes an open-mic night to tell his story.”

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Issues of suicide and homelessness crop up in the play, which were uncomfortable terrain for at least one critic who reviewed it in 2019.

“Don’t put down your money expecting the usual atheist-out-of-water story. You are going to some deep, dark places, accompanied by perhaps the only person qualified to guide you through them,” wrote Mike Anderson, for the Mooney on the Theatre website.

Beaune said the play isn’t autobiographical, although Rickaby did draw on some of his own experiences to write it.

The playwright is a Christian, and Beaune considers himself an atheist. But “whether you are a believer or non-believer, the play still speaks to you in a very human way,” said Beaune.

“Ultimately, it deals with how you cope with anger and that’s pretty universal.”

The Commandment was also previously staged (with Rickaby as the performer and Beaune as director) at fringe festivals in Hamilton, Ont., where it won a Critic’s Choice commendation, Halifax, and St. Johns., N.B., where it was named Outstanding Solo Show.

Lane, who’s also a Red Deer resident, admitted it will be challenging to be directing the show’s former director. But she also aims to bring her own vision to the play.

She also hopes to strike the right tonal balance for this tragi-comedy so the audience isn’t left with emotional whiplash between the belly laughs and the deeper feelings that are stirred.

The Red Deer production of The Commandment can be seen at the Edmonton Fringe Festival, from Aug. 12 to 21, at the Sue Paterson Memorial Theatre at the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean (8406-91st Ave.)



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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