Mark Swift is a second year company member of Hedgerow Theatre from New Jersey. He has been seen in No Sex Please, We’re British, Dracula, A Christmas Carol, The Mysterious Affair at Styles and now Boeing Boeing.
This week has been a big week in the press for the Hedgerow Theatre Company as their production of Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing continues to be recognized for its mastery of farce. With a Barrymore Recommendation and rave reviews from Philly.com and DC MetroArts, this year’s summer farce is one of the best in Hedgerow’s long history of performing this genre.
Directed by Damon Bonetti, Boeing Boeing features Bernard (Andrew Parcell), a playboy who, with the help of his witty maid Berthe (Trice Baldwin), is “engaged” to three gorgeous airline hostesses: Gloria (Meredith Beck), an American, works for TWA; Gabriella (Hanna Gaffney), an Italian, is with Air Italia; and Gretchen (Allison Bloechl), a German, flies with Lufthansa. During a visit from an old college friend from Wisconsin, Robert (Mark Swift), Bernard’s perfect flight plan is thrown into severe turbulence when weather and a new jumbo jet upset his timetables and bring all three women to Paris at the same time.
Swift, who worked with Bonetti on last year’s No Sex Please, We’re British, is once again the comic foil as Robert, and has once again wowed audiences. DC MetroArts raves about his “physical hijinks,” and Philly.com says, “Like a clown, he [Swift] exists to make us laugh; like a great comic actor, he elicits sympathy, and in his character’s reversal, a hint of admiration.”
“I really do love the show as a whole, but if I had to pick one moment in particular,” Swift observes, “it would be during the second half of act one, once Bernard realizes that two of his fianceés are in his flat. From this point on the farce kicks into overdrive and it’s such a fun ride. I couldn’t be more pleased with my fellow castmates. If it weren’t for their skills and on/off stage generosity, I can’t imagine myself having nearly as much fun.”
Having Bonetti as director was once again a positive experience. “I learned from Damon that farce is a machine. Every single line, physical gag, and even the slightest pause for silence are all part of an enormous ticking comedic clock,” notes Swift. “During the rehearsal process I watched as all my castmates experimented with new things, everyday coming in with some new joke and it was really inspiring. I love working with people who challenge me at every corner to up the ‘funny ante’.”
In last year’s British comedy, Swift played Brian Runnicles, the uptight chief cashier at a London bank, who finds himself having to dispose of vast shipments of pornography when his friend Peter’s wife accidentally signs them up for a mail order service. In this year’s French farce, Swift’s portrayal of Robert, a simple Wisconsin boy visiting his philandering friend Bernard in Paris, is on point, filled with all the physicality of Jerry Lewis and the wit of John Cleese.
“I have always loved Jim Carrey, and seeing what he was able to do definitely inspired me at a young age to pursue acting,” Swift explains. “I have always appreciated physical humor and practiced falling down and being an all around ‘goofy mover’ ever since I was a little kid. As I grew older and discovered TV Land, I fell in love with Three’s Company and of course, the late and great John Ritter. To me, he was much like Carrey in that he was a very physical comedian—but I felt like I was able to learn more from Ritter in the ways of balancing physical humor and dry delivery.”
Swift graduated from Rider University with a B.A. in theatre performance in 2015, landed a job as an Acting Fellow at Hedgerow, and went straight to work in No Sex Please. Now a seasoned veteran at Hedgerow, with shows like Dracula (Renfield) and The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Alfred) under his belt, he has embraced the playful side of Hedgerow.
“The single most important thing I have learned through my time here at Hedgerow Theatre is that stupid is good,” Swift states. “There have been zero instances during any rehearsal process where someone has said ‘That’s so dumb’ and meant it as anything but the highest praise.”
If you want to see Swift and his fellow actors at work, head to Hedgerow by August 21 to “LOL” at Boeing Boeing. Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday shows are $34; Saturday twilight shows (4 pm) are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under and students are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change.
For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).