“It’s something that can be missing or lacking in our lives – the opportunity to just sit and laugh and be silly for a bit, and I think that’s exactly what this play can do for us,” he says.
“Come along and see some silliness, laugh for an hour and a half, and relax and have a good time.”
First directed by Geoffrey Rush in 1987, The Popular Mechanicals is a play within a play following the backstory of bumbling amateur thespians the Rude Mechanicals from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Incorporating clowning, slapstick, vaudeville, stand-up comedy and “bad puppetry”, the State Theatre Company of South Australia’s new production of the play is directed by Sarah Giles and will open at the Space Theatre this Friday.
Overton, whose acting credits include the Helpmann Award-winning Me and My Shadow (Patch Theatre) and Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (State Theatre), will play Francis Flute.
He says The Popular Mechanicals is full of “brilliant writing and brilliant gags”, making it difficult for the cast to rehearse without laughing.
“I would say we have never gone 30 minutes without cracking up trying to put it together. All of that is attributed to a fantastic play.
“We often remark that this is our jobs, this is what we do for work, and how ridiculous that is.”
The cast of six also includes Helpmann Award-winning actresses Amber McMahon (In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, School Dance) and Julie Forsyth (Holding the Man).
“It’s an ensemble piece, so we’re all on stage the whole time and we’re all contributing musically as well,” Overton says.
The actor, who will also be seen in the Slingsby production The Young King at next year’s Adelaide Festival, says The Popular Mechanicals encompasses everything he loves about performance.
“I love doing comedy on stage, I love doing Shakespeare and it was a nice coming together of those two things.
“It’s a really excellent team, beyond my involvement with the cast; the whole team is putting on a really beautiful show, an aurally beautiful show.”
The State Theatre Company of SA is presenting The Popular Mechanicals from November 6-28 in the Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre.
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