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Though very different, they find out they’re all Wild Guys

Robb Judd as Andy, Michael Grant as Robin, Dan Kelley as Stewart and Thom Smith as Randall rehearse a scene from The Wild Guys. [Veronica Reiner]

Boys will be boys, but men on an sketchy journey of self-discovery may be anything but predictable in the latest offering from the Elmira Theatre Company. Wild Guys opens Friday, offering up insight and plenty of laughs.

Penned by Canadian couple Andrew Wreggitt and Rebecca Shaw, the play follows the story of four middle-aged men on a getaway that turns out to be more than they signed up for. Setting off for an isolated cabin for a “wildman” weekend in the vein of Robert Bly’s Iron John – it’s set in the ’90s after all – they soon discover than everything that can go wrong does.

Men’s movement advocate Andy (played by Robb Judd), new-age free-spirit Robin (Michael Grant), local grocer Stewart (Dan Kelley) and practical lawyer Randall (Thom Smith) all wind up on a “Men’s Awareness Weekend.”

When the group gets lost on the way to the cottage, there are plenty of room for personality clashes, wild animal noises, and conversations about the men’s movement.

“It’s got some funny moments, and it has its tender moments. The men really get to know each other,” said director Cathy Moore.

“I think these men too had difficulty relating to other men … because it can be difficult sometimes for men to open up. So over the course of their journey … from strangers to coming out on the other end as friends, it’s a lovely journey that they do take.”

While it is classified as a comedy, the play touches on several serious topics. The men learn that it is okay to communicate with one another and to express emotion.

Elmira actor Michael Grant takes on the role of the off-colour character, Robin, who’s on a personal journey of self-discovery and trying all types of groups imaginable to do so: talking crystals, discovering your inner shadow workshop, a successful life course.

“It’s been a challenge – it’s been fun. If I ever met this guy, I’d want to hit him,” said Grant with a laugh of his character. “The energy he brings to the group, the youthfulness, that was something I enjoyed bringing onstage.”

He clashes considerably with the other characters in the beginning, who lead a more “normal” lifestyle.

“They don’t relate to my character whatsoever,” said Grant. “It’s very apparent from the moment we’re all onstage together: that guy’s different and they don’t get along.”

By the end of the play however, the characters change their tune and form lasting friendships. Moore, a long-time ETC director, said that she found herself captivated by the script.

“I like the storyline.  I found the journey very intriguing. I like the way the playwrights wrote it. As soon as I read it, I start to have these visions in my head … that’s always a good sign,” said Moore.

The Elmira Theatre Company production of The Wild Guys runs January 31 to February 13 at the Howard Avenue theatre. Tickets are $20, or $65 per person for the Valentine’s dinner theatre show on February 14, available KW Tickets at 1-800-265-8977 or 519-578-1570 or in person at Centre In The Square box office, 101 Queen St. N., Kitchener, or online.

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