Phil Wagner and Ted Fox play Gus and  Ben

Phil Wagner and Ted Fox play Gus and Ben

Play follows not-so smooth criminals

Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter reunites teacher with former student in performance at The Hub in Vernon.

They started off as pupil and teacher and years later they are starring as hit men in the play The Dumb Waiter.

Written by Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, the play is being presented by The Tragically Comic Players at The Hub Arts Collective Sept. 27 through 29.

The Dumb Waiter features Lumby’s Phil Wagner, artistic director of Tragically Comic Players, and Ted Fox, who grew up in Lumby but currently resides in Vernon.

Fox was one of Wagner’s drama and English students at Charles Bloom Secondary School back in 1996.

“He graduated a long time ago and manages his father’s plumbing business now, but boy, can he still act,” said Wagner about Fox, who is also known locally as lead singer and guitarist with band New Clear Sound.

This is not the first time the two men have staged Pinter’s play.

Fox was the stage manager  and Wagner the director when it was presented at Charles Bloom back in the ‘90s.

“(Lead actors) David Hornell and Nick Phillips won best actors at the drama festival in Kelowna at the time and were offered a spot at the Kelowna Fringe Festival in 1996. (We were) the only high school invited to the Fringe. Ever since then Ted has wanted to act in the play,” said Wagner.

It was after running into Fox at one of his musical performances at The Hub that Wagner and he started reminiscing about The Dumb Waiter. They decided right then to remount it at The Hub.

“The Hub only seats about 50 people, but it is a perfect venue for this off-beat classic. The black box theatre feel of The Hub lends itself to the negative space set design for this play wherein two hit men wait in a mysterious room (with a dumbwaiter) for their next assignment,” said Wagner.

Written in 1957, The Dumb Waiter is in one act and follows the two hit men, Gus and Ben, as they await orders in a basement room from an unseen or known entity. To pass the time, their banter ranges from Abbott and Costello “who’s on first” ridiculousness to silence-filled pauses.

“(They) are ostensibly not too bright, but deal with the absurd mystery that presents itself to test them in their waiting room with an arduous struggle of profound intensity,” said Wagner. “The resulting comedy is subtle and menacing.”

Besides Wagner and Fox, The Tragically Comic production features Rod MacDonald as technical director and Annika Lauriston as stage manager.  The minimal, negative-space set design has been designed by Wagner, while sound effects play the part of the dumb waiter.

Tickets to see the production, which runs at The Hub, 2906-30th Ave., Sept. 27 to 29 at 8 p.m., are $10 and available at the door and at the Bean Scene, located across from The Hub. Reservations can also be made by calling 250-547-6045.