It’s a sunny weekday, mid-afternoon and Todd Duckworth says he’s sorry if he sounds groggy. He’s just awoken from a nap.
The veteran Ottawa actor isn’t just the lover of a post-lunch siesta — he’s catching up on some lost sleep, and making sure he’s ready for the evening performance. The star of Plan B, the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s final show of the season, nearly had to bow out of the play after undergoing surgery for a serious infection in his knee.
“Unfortunately it hit me right at a critical time about two-thirds of the way into rehearsals — pretty late in the game to get anyone else in. I was leaving the hospital during the day to go to rehearsal, then going back at night,” Duckworth candidly explains. “There were a nervous couple of days, but I think when you tell yourself ‘you have no choice. You are doing this,’ your body comes around and you just do it.”
Taking the old saying ‘the show must go on’ to heart, Duckworth has been performing a rigorous role nightly in the three-hour plus political satire by writer Michael Healy.
His character, Michael Fraser, is the finance minister of Canada during the mid-1990s, and at the height of the French-English debate in Canada. He — and other political players such as Quebec’s intergovernmental affairs minister, played by Annick Léger, a senator from Saskatchewan played by John Koensgen and the premier of Quebec played by Paul Rainville — all engage in meetings and debates about the situation.
But, this being a comical farce, there is much going on behind the scenes, and between the sheets, as Duckworth’s character and Leger’s character have their own kind of intergovernmental affair. “It makes you wonder are the relations between English and French Canada a metaphor for our relationship, or is it the other way around? I think it’s a bit of both. It weaves back and forth seamlessly and is a very cleverly written play,” he says.
And, even when he’s not engaging in bedroom politics, Duckworth says his character has a penchant for removing his pants. Is that a challenging feat when one has a pain-stricken, post-operative knee to contend with? Are Velcro, tear-away pants employed? “No, no Velcro. It was tricky at first, but once I discovered I could take off the pants without taking off my shoes, it got easier,” he says with a laugh.