sheldon davis, graham percy & david lerigny
Nova Scotian fishermen are known for telling tall tales, but the one that AJ Demers presents in The Whimsy State or the Principality of Outer Baldonia is a remarkable mostly true story from Yarmouth that has since drifted into obscurity. The play comes from the Lunchbox Theatre in Calgary and plays this week at Eastern Front Theatre’s Supernova Festival.
In 1948 two Nova Scotian fishermen and an American lawyer and lobbyist for the Pepsi Cola Company declared an island 15 km off the coast of Yarmouth a sovereign nation, with a flag, its own currency and a Constitution which gave the fisherman the freedom to “lie and be believed” and also to be “expensive and hilarious” among other things. The island was called The Principality of Outer Baldonia and eventually it would declare war on the USSR.
AJ Demers certainly honours the rights of the citizens of this principality to be hilarious in this play, for it is a fascinating story told in the most delightfully silly of ways. In Demers’ well crafted dialogue and the way director Pamela Halstead anchors the story, you can almost smell the sea breeze wafting off the three actors.
These actors, Graham Percy as “Prince of Princes” Russell Arundel, Sheldon Davis as Prince Ron Wallace and David Lerigny as Prince Elson Boudreau are absolutely perfect in bringing all the emotion, imagination and gusto needed to make this fun story fly. Percy is enterprising and cheeky as Russ, the leader of Canada’s smallest neighbour, whose zest and spirit endears him to his friends and the audience even whilst making ridiculous and brazen declarations to other nations that the two Canadians would never dream of. Davis evokes all the sea shanties of the east coast as Ron Wallace, who tells of catching the devil fish and humbly tries to placate his friends. LeRigny’s Elson is the more practical and excitable one of the group, who routinely makes up for his wife’s absence by nagging the others in an endearing curmudgeonly spirit. LeRigny also makes a hysterical Spanish Ambassador to the United Nations, which is a cross between Yosemite Sam and Ricky Martin. Karen Johnson-Diamond rounds off the cast playing both Russell Arundel’s receptionist at the Pepsi Cola Company, who is able to communicate such joy and loss without words and the Soviet Ambassador, who is fraught with all the silliest and most cartoony Russian clichés, to perfect effect.
The Whimsy State or the Principality of Outer Baldonia is a really fun way to spend sixty minutes in the theatre. The story it is based on is in itself outrageous and stranger than fiction, which gives liscense to the artists to not be afraid to go really big and to explore every potential for laughter, which serves this whimsical tall tale very well.
This is a play that I would recommend to anyone who wants a night out with lots of laughter and one that I think people who may not frequent the theatre, or even those who think they don’t like the theatre, would really enjoy. And for all the curious among you who may want to learn more about the real Principality of Outer Baldonia, I say, “look it up, it’s history.”
The Whimsy State or the Principality of Outer Baldonia plays at the Neptune Studio Theatre (1593 Argyle Street, Halifax) as part of Eastern Front Theatre’s Supernova Festival at the following times:
Thursday May 10th at 9:00pm
Friday May 11th at 7:00pm
Saturday May 12th at 9:00pm
For more information or to book your tickets please call 902.429.7070 or visit this website.