Review: Bad Dog Theatre Short Play Festival

by Dorianne Emmerton

The Bad Dog Theatre Short Play Festival showcases original Canadian comedic short plays. Keep reading to find out more about the two shows Loose Connections and The Void.

Loose Connections (by Robin Pond)

Loose Connections is a set of sketch comedy scene played by three actors, Eric Turkienicz, Deanna Palazzo, and Skye Regan.

In the first scene a woman storms into a coffeeshop demanding to know what the secret conspiracy is to keep patrons returning to that same establishment every day. The angry woman had some very funny build up but unfortunately the punch line to the scene was lost the night I saw it.

A scene where an older woman goes to a police station to file a missing persons report on her husband worked much better. Deanna Palazzo, playing the older woman (and also the angry woman in the scene above) has some comedic chops on her.

The scene overall felt very familiar, as if I’d seen a very similar setup before. I definitely knew how it was going to end almost right away but some of the individual jokes inside the scene, particularly with the woman’s unique take on people’s names, were very amusing and the actors had a great dynamic.

The next scene was a couple on a first date going through that awkward “do we kiss goodnight?” moment. Skye Regan had the nervous gestures of a romantically inept young woman down pat, though there was a lack of chemistry between the two – they just did not seem attracted to each other enough to be that nervous.

The punch line, however, was worth every minute.

The final scene was very surreal. It seemed to be inspired by Hotel California: a woman at a hotel finds she can never leave – unlike in the Eagles song lyrics, however, she doesn’t even get the chance to check out. The checkout clerk is much more interested in getting her to take advantage of all the facilities, and a woman in the corner reading Psychology Today keeps interjecting her psychoanalysis of the woman’s desire to leave.

This scene seemed to be trying to say something a bit more profound than the ones that came before: something existentialist, perhaps.

The Void (by Paul “P” Kingston)

The final play of the night The Void, was three characters waiting for their author to write something for them to do. They are self-describe archetypes: Agent Desmond Drucker (Mike Tanchuk) is the handsome, suave and brooding hero. Chuck (Michael Stefanski) is his comedic side-kick. Lady Liberty Vasquez (Hayley Andoff) is the brainless but busty femme fatale.

They are unable to do anything but talk amongst themselves until their author writes them some action. When he does, they are brought the instruction by a ridiculously dressed character named “Page” (Matt Nadeau) who silently delivers the new pages of the manuscript in a black box. We know his name is Page because it is written on his shirt, amidst various food stains.

The author is a hack suffering writer’s block so the pages delivered become unacceptable to the characters. This is because they have discovered their free will in all their downtime, but also because the action contained in the pages becomes too ludicrous, to the extent where a ninja (Chris Leveille) appears out of nowhere. His purpose must be to assassinate someone, but he is so poorly written that he is easily defeated.

Anyone familiar with the mystery genre will appreciate this satire. The stereotypes characters are reversed with their newfound freedom, with the bimbo beating up the special agent to get his shirt so she can stop parading around in her underwear, and the laughing-stock side-kick becoming the man with the plan.

Details

– The Bad Dog Theatre Short Play Festival is at Bad Dog Theatre at 138 Danforth Avenue until July 31 2010.

– Shows run every hour at 7, 8, 9 and 10 pm

– Tickets are $12 per short play ($10 for Bad Dog members.)

– For more details, www.baddogtheatre.com or call 416.491.3115

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