A 1940s spin on a 1980s Schwarzenegger classic

One of the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival fan favourites is returning to the stage for one night only. Commando: The Radio Play comes to the Gas Station Arts Centre Feb. 22.

Featuring the voice talents of Cathy Herbert, Sam McLean and Will O’Donnell, and starring aluminum sheets and broken heads of celery in the skilled hands of foley artist Cory Falvo, it’s bigger, better and more polished than ever. If you missed it at Fringe or are already obsessed, you have one more opportunity to relive the magic.

Who would have thought about taking the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger action vehicle and adapting it into a 1940s-style radio play? Well, Cory Falvo did.

Though making a radio play seemed like an interesting concept to Falvo, finding an old radio play to perform just didn’t seem to coalesce.

“Then, I had seen Commando recently and I kind of thought, ‘What if I adapt something modern?’” Falvo said.

The apotheosis of an R-rated 1980s shoot-em-up with as cliché a role as could exist for Schwarzenegger, Falvo knew the movie’s objective cheesiness was perfect for a comedy show.

“It’s a movie with some of the best one-liners from Arnold [Schwarzenegger],” Falvo said. “It’s not a cult hit in the way some cult hits where we’re kind of sick of them. If I did The Room — we’ve seen it, I’m done. If we did Die Hard, I mean, that would just turn people away.”

In fact, true to the original movie, O’Donnell maintains the iconic Austrian accent for the entire production. Meanwhile, Herbert and McLean take the remaining roles, and Falvo performs the sound effects.

“My plan going into this show was just to make something that I thought was funny, that I liked, that I didn’t care if people were going to hate it,” Falvo said.

“But then to get the response that […] people actually thought it was as funny as I did and actually were really into it was very, very rewarding and gratifying.”

Is this the last time we’ll see Commando: The Radio Play on the Winnipeg stage? Possibly, thinks Falvo.

“We had the choice of doing multiple shows, but decided we would rather do one show with a full theatre,” Falvo wrote in an email. “We wanted to guarantee it would be a big event with a lot of energy.”

In fact, the one-night show is a less messy alternative to a longer run of shows when crushing vegetables is the main source of sound effects.

“If you’re going to work with fruits and produce, wipe off your table, so that you’re not covered in fruit flies during a performance.”