Given that Mark McKinney of Kids in the Hall fame is not only one of the writers, but also one of the stars of Slings and Arrows, one would think it would be much funnier than it is. It exists somewhere in that netherworld between drama and comedy though (as much TV seems to these days), but labeling it a dramedy is useless, because that doesn’t really tell you anything other than you might laugh or you might cry. In fact, dramedy is such an ineffective word, that I’d like to find the person who came up with the term and knock the crap out of them, or at least hire someone to. But I digress.
The series revolves around the fictitious New Burbage Festival, which is dedicated to showcasing the works of Shakespeare. Don’t bother trying to find New Burbage on the Canadian map, as the town is just as much of a creation as the festival. The central character is Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross), a rebellious sort who had a breakdown seven years ago smack in the middle of performing the lead role in a production of “Hamlet.” Afflicted with some vague mental illness for which he’s been treated, he’s continued trying to stage shows as a director at various venues without much success. Business went on as usual at the festival without him, although it appears nothing’s been quite the same since that night for artistic director Oliver Welles (Stephen Ouimette) and leading lady Ellen Fanshaw (Martha Burns). One night Oliver sees Geoffrey on the news, chained to a rundown theatre he’s trying to protect, and in an inebriated state tries to telephone him to make amends. Geoffrey rejects the apology, and Oliver stumbles out of the phone booth and is hit by a meat truck. Naturally, the festival needs a new artistic director, and Geoffrey begrudgingly accepts the job on a temporary basis. But it doesn’t take long for Oliver’s ghost to come knocking, or is it that Geoffrey has finally lost his mind for good?
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