Two comedy plays kick off Thursday at Basement Theatre

Tara Bradbury
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St. John's resident Dave Sullivan, a comedian/actor/writer, is poses in his downtown apartment in the capital city . — Telegram file photo

Was Dave Sullivan typecast in his upcoming performance at the Arts and Culture Centre Basement Theatre?

Maybe just a little.

Sullivan stars in both “The Proposal” and “The Dangers of Tobacco” as a nervous man, and admits he’s one in real life.

“I am one, very much. I’ve always been sort of anxious, and it’s something I’ve had to overcome to do things in the past, so I can certainly relate to some extent,” the actor/comedian said with a chuckle.

Written by Russian doctor and playwright Anton Chekhov and first performed in the late 1800s, the two one-act comedic plays are being produced together by Kanutu Productions, starring Sullivan, Bryan Hennessey and Monica Walsh, and directed by Andy Jones.

“The Proposal,” featuring all three actors, is a comedy about marriage proposals, nervousness and land ownership. It’s very romantic, Sullivan joked.

“It’s funnier than the term ‘land ownership,’” he promised. “It’s about a man who’s going to seek the permission of a father to marry the daughter, and the process of him asking the daughter ends up being really hairy, because he can’t quite spit it out. They fight all the time, so every time he goes to say, ‘Will you marry me?’ they get into a racket. Inevitable hijinks ensue, and it just spins out of control.

“It’s very funny.”

“The Dangers of Tobacco” is a monologue by a quirky, brow-beaten man who’s been asked by his domineering wife to give a speech about the dangers of smoking, even though he’s a smoker.

Not getting many opportunities to speak to an audience, he has a hard time sticking to the subject and instead speaks of what’s on his mind.

“By the end, you find out an awful lot about this man and his relationship with his wife and the things that he does. It’s very funny, but in a different way from ‘The Proposal,’” Sullivan explained.

The wo characters Sullivan plays are similar, in a nervous, twitchy kind of way, and it’s for this reason the plays are often packaged together.

Though written more than 100 years ago, the plays are still funny and relevant to a contemporary audience.

“They certainly do have a style about them, and Chekhov is very particular about the words that he uses, and he’s very clever and very smart,” Sullivan said.

“I think this kind of comedy is everywhere — the the zany, dorky, vulnerable comedy that makes me think of Steve Martin or Steve Carrell.”

“The Proposal” and “The Dangers of Tobacco” will run Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., and tickets are $15.

There’ll be a pay-what-you-can matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at the Arts and Culture Centre box office or by calling 729-3900.

Organizations: Arts and Culture Centre Basement Theatre

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