SURREY — For three nights this week, Fringe Festival veterans Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson bring their hit show, “The Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel,” to Surrey Arts Centre.
As Peter n’ Chris, the Vancouver-based duo have won three Canadian Comedy Awards for their brand of sketch, which has been described as long form, narrative, cinematic and extremely physical.
Their two-hour “The Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel” mixes bits of “Scooby-Doo” with a teen slasher flick. The show is staged from Thursday to Saturday (March 17 to 19) at the Bear Creek Park theatre. Tickets range from $25 to $35 (604-501-5566, Tickets.surrey.ca).
The Now caught up with Carlone for a Q&A phone interview last week; our questions below are in bold:
Between you and Chris, do you do all the interviews?
Carlone: “Things are getting busy so we have to find a way to divvy up the work, which isn’t a bad problem to have at all. The show is booking quite frequently and one thing we’re trying to work on is getting more online content, and then some TV stuff going, which has been really exciting but it’s also a very long process. It’s almost like a political campaign, just years of convincing these, you know, big people that we are worth it. It’s a ‘vote for our show’ kind of thing.”
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When was this show created?
“Hmmm, I’d have to think… it was 2012, maybe. It’s been around for awhile. What happened is, there’s a festival called Theatre Under the Gun, a 48-hour play writing festival. So they give you three things, which are a line of a dialogue, a song and a prop. From there, you have to go away and come up with a 20- to 30-minute piece of theatre in 48 hours — fully written, fully rehearsed, teched out and ready to go. So we got Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” as our song, a crappy old screen window, and our line of dialogue was a tweet by Sarah Silverman about dirty things, like motel bedspreads, pennies, stuff like that. We thought, ‘What are we going to do with all this stuff?’ It was around October, so we were barking up this idea of Chris and I being these characters, sort of mystery solvers, so it became a Halloween-themed show, and that’s how it started, a spooky sort of thing, and from there it grew into a Hardy Boys spoof where we are in a motel called the Hungry Heart Motel.… Yeah, like hungry for murder, maybe.”
Did the show win the award at the festival?
“There are no awards but it still feels like a competition, but it’s more of a creative inspiration project.… It got a lot of laughs and people seemed to enjoy the concept of this murder-mystery where the mystery gets spoiled right off the top, by a narrator who’s trying to set the mood. It sort of falls apart from there, and that got some laughs. From there, we expanded it to an hour and started touring the Fringe (festivals).”
Has the show changed much since you first wrote it?
“With this one it’s a matter of rewriting it as we go, adding stuff and changing things and keeping it fresh. In a way it’s always evolving because we try to keep it loose enough to react to the actual audience on the night. So if they find something a little funnier and something weird happens, then that becomes part of the show now, whether it’s just for that night or, if it goes so well and we love it so much, we keep it.”
Have you performed in Surrey before?
“I toured with the Arts Club a while ago in a show called ‘The Foreigner,’ in that same theatre there (in February 2015). So yeah, that’s a big theatre for Chris and I to fill.”
How long ago did you meet Chris?
“We’ve performed under our official name since around 2008. We were in UVic together, at theatre school there, and we were always spoofing things a lot back then. One of the best parts of learning serious theatre rules, and what serious performance is supposed to be, is you learn what rules to break, and that’s funny to audiences because they’re used to seeing things a certain way.… This year, we have a new show we’re touring to sketch festivals, but we’re also working on our very first Christmas show. We’ve loosely called it ‘A Peter n’ Chris-mas Carol,’ which should be a lot of fun.”
Any final words you’d like to add about “The Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel”?
“The thing we always mention with this show is that it’s about having fun, for people to come, relax and laugh. It’s going to fall off the rails sometimes, and there are moments in the show where it looks like we’re falling out of the show a little bit, and that’s on purpose, and there are moments where that’s not on purpose, and things happen that aren’t planned, where we’re improvising and trying to get back on track. The whole reason for that is because we want to keep it loose and reactive to the crowd that’s there.”