Person of Interest comes to Lighthouse in Port Dover March 21
Melody A. Johnson may be criminally funny, but she’s no crook. So the Brantford-born comedian was shocked to learn that the police thought otherwise.
Johnson applied to volunteer at her son’s school and was flagged during the mandated police background check.
“That’s when I discovered I had a record and was considered a ‘person of interest’ courtesy of some bad neighbours next door. It was their final act of retaliation,” she said.
Johnson put pen to paper to vent her frustration and wrote Person of Interest, a one-woman show she describes as “a mostly true story” of urban warfare and what happens when neighbours go bad.
The one-act show is playing at Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover on Saturday, March 21, at 2 pm and 8 pm. Tickets are $29 each.
The neighbourly skirmish that inspired Johnson’s story was typical of her tightly packed Toronto neighbourhood, where errantly placed garbage bins and bicycles can spark conflict.
“In Brantford, people had land, which I loved. Backyards, room between houses,” she said. “The situation here is that we’re three, four feet apart from each other. It’s a really narrow alleyway between the two houses. So we bump into each other all the time. I tell people, thank your lucky stars if you have good neighbours, because it’s a rare, amazing thing.”
Person of Interest is a light-hearted comedy that follows Johnson’s attempt to clear her name, helped by her police officer cousin and crime show-fanatic mother.
“For people who like podcasts and radio dramas, I think it’s a pretty fun tale to hear,” she said. “If you’ve ever had an altercation with a neighbour, it might be particularly interesting for you to come out and commiserate with me.”
Johnson may be the only one on stage in Person of Interest, but she says she’s not alone.
“I really think it’s a two-hander with me and the audience,” she said. “I listen to them and they propel me and support the work by laughing. I do feel buoyed by them.”
Local audiences may recognize Johnson as the star of Miss Caledonia, a show she wrote based on the life of her mother, Peggy Douglas, who set her dreams beyond the farm by winning the local beauty pageant and punching her ticket to Hollywood.
Miss Caledonia delighted audiences at Lighthouse’s inaugural One Act Festival five years ago, and has since toured Canada and the United Kingdom. Now Johnson is bringing Person of Interest to Port Dover to conclude this year’s festival. Tickets are $29 and are available at lighthousetheatre.com or at 519-583-2221.
“I’m thrilled to come back. I have a number of relatives in the area who’ll come to the show, so it’ll be nice to have some familiar faces in the audience – people who know the story, or bits of it,” Johnson said.
Renowned theatre critic Richard Ouzonian has anointed Johnson “the kook supreme of the Canadian stage,” adding, “I truly would pay money to see Johnson read the phone book.”
While reviewing Person of Interest, Cathy McKim from Life With More Cowbell praised Johnson’s onstage energy, irreverence and charm.
“A shocking tale of neighbourhood warfare told with candor and an edgy sense of fun,” McKim wrote. “Extremely clever with some unique jokes and anecdotes.”
And Jennifer Enchin of Mooney on Theatre said audiences are in for “a fun, quirky and clever night of theatre.”
“Person of Interest is a one-woman show for the ages. One of the most entertaining and engaging stories I’ve heard in a very long time,” Enchin wrote. “The performance is seamless. Johnson powers through with not an ounce of apprehension. It’s very cool to watch.”
After falling in love with performing as a kid in Brantford, Johnson’s show business career has spanned the Second City improv stage (she was recruited by improv giant Colin Mochrie), Shakespeare and modern drama, TV and film roles, musical theatre, animation and voicework.
But she considers herself a comedian at heart.
“I’ve done a lot of drama or serious text, but I just miss comedy so much. I love writing it and creating it,” she said.
“I love to make people laugh.”
Click here for tickets to Person of Interest.