Rambunctiously satirical comedy troupe formed by St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador actors, but which actually had its premiere production - Cod on a Stick - at Theatre Passe Muraille (where they had been encouraged by artistic director Paul Thompson) in 1973. Several members had worked with Newfoundland's Mummers, others with the Newfoundland Travelling Theatre. The eight who eventually formed the troupe were: Paul Sametz, Robert Joy, Dyan Olsen, Cathy Jones, her brother Andy Jones, Mary Walsh, Greg Malone and, the youngest, at 15, Tommy Sexton.
Codco brought something quite new to the theatres of Newfoundland which had been filled, previously, with classical theatre, historical scenes and other standard fare. But the province and the nation were quickly caught up in the inspired buffoonery of the Codco productions, each of which had a particularly odd title: Das Kapital or What do You Want to See The Harbour for, Anyway?; Sickness, Death and Beyond the Grave; Who Said Anything About Tea; Would You Like to Smell my Pocket Crumbs?; Festering Feathers and Running Sons and Codco's finale in 1976, Tail Ends.
The group didn't so much master the dialects and expressions of Newfoundland as live them. They made little secret of the fact that some of their best characters (Malone's and Walsh's Mr. and Mrs. Budgell, for instance) were loosely based on people they knew or saw on the streets of the town every day.
Their targets delighted the crowds who came to the Basement Theatre: the feds, mainlanders, local fishermen, priests, real estate developers. (The raison d'être of Das Kapital... was a developer who planted a huge building on the capital's harbour front.)
The company did get together for The Best of Codco in 1985, and then Sexton, Walsh, the Joneses and Malone performed in the much-loved CBC-TV series until Andy Jones departed in 1993 over a controversial sketch about pedophile priests (when much of Newfoundland was still in shock over the Mount Cashel orphanage scandal) and Sexton died of AIDS in 1994.
Profile by Gaetan Charlebois. Additional information provided by Peter Sametz.
Last updated 2021-04-13