REVIEW: Beyond a Joke

A young man overhears his future parents-in-law having a conversation about mysterious deaths and is left with the impression that they might be killing people. That’s the comedic engine in Derek Benfield’s Beyond a Joke, being presented by the Ottawa Little Theatre.

Having trouble watching the video? Watch it directly on YouTube.

What did you think? Did Beyond a Joke have you laughing in the aisles? What’s your favourite British farce? Tell us in the comments below.

Beyond a Joke runs at the Ottawa Little Theatre until May 19th. Full show times and how to buy tickets online can be found at

And if you haven’t seen our preview yet, check it out and see interviews from the cast of Beyond a Joke as well as a sneak peek at the show:

For lovers of the written word, here’s the review script in print form:

In Derek Benfield’s British farce, Beyond a Joke, Jane and Andrew are an upper-class couple with a beautiful estate. But to their misfortune, their house is, shall we say, accident prone and has already claimed a small handful of lives. One fine weekend, the dumb-as-a-post boyfriend of their daughter overhears Jane and Andrew discussing the previous deaths and the upcoming and potentially life-threatening visit from the new town Vicar. This causes the poor boy, who didn’t know of the house’s history, to think his future parents-in-law are serial killers. In step with most good British Farce — and this *IS* good British Farce — the miscommunication plays itself over the course of the play, people often run frantically from scene to scene, there’s a couple of dead bodies, a lot of surprises and mini-twists and a *LOT* of great laughs.

Going in, from what we’d seen in our preview video, the expectation was for that dumb-as-a-post boyfriend, played by Seamus O’Brien to come across as a bit over the top. Happily, we can say that our concern was misplaced and O’Brien was great as the poor, confused and vastly prone to grand overreactions Geoff. Not only that, his strong physical presence and his ability to use it to hilarious result made for a lot of the fun in Beyond a Joke. Especially his early scenes with the Vicar who - don’t forget - he thinks is about to be murdered.

While the rest of the main cast, particularly Jane Morris as Jane, and Sarah Hearn as Andrew’s sister Sarah, were strong in their roles, the actor who really elevated Beyond a Joke, even more than O’Brien did, was Mike Kennedy as Andrew. Watching him play out the various emotional states, from confusion over how strange Geoff — who he never really liked anyway — has been acting, to him just trying to keep everything from coming apart, was a joy and a pleasure.

Laughs aside — and it would take a while to actually move all the laughs aside — one other cool aspect of the play is the duality of the set which has a garden taking up one side of the stage and the interior taking on the other side. This creates a neat illusion of two different sets, sometimes, both in use at once, where there’s really only one.

So if you need some laughter in your life — and, really, who doesn’t - get out to see The Ottawa Little Theatre’s presentation of Beyond a Joke.

Disclosure: Reviewer, Matthew Champ was unable to attend Beyond a Joke. The review was written by Allan Mackey, who left the on camera presentation to the professionals.

Show producer: Allan Mackey
Review by: Allan Mackey
On camera presentation: Matthew Champ
Show produced by Valley Wind Productions for Production Ottawa


Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!

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