I joined a highly energetic crowd at Theatre Passe Muraille on Friday night for the opening of Chicken Grease is Nasty Business. Playing now as part of the 2014 SummerWorks Festival, this show is great for anyone who wants a night out without the kids (the humour is definitely adult, so leave them at home for this one) and likes their shows the way that some people might like their chicken – extra saucy.
Michael Miller’s script gets stronger as it goes, as do the performances. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, and Friday’s crowd was nothing if not responsive and clearly entertained. Once all the relationships have been established and the players have been introduced, we are taken on a somewhat crazy but somehow believable journey with a fun yet dysfunctional family.
The story takes place over one extra crazy day in their lives, where much is revealed, admitted, pondered and explained. There are a few hilariously unexpected plot twists, and, though I don’t want to give too much away, let’s just say the show contains perhaps the most entertaining choreographed scene change distraction you will ever see.
Though the first few scenes all take place in the same room, the sides of the stage are eventually used as well to great effect. It’s a really nice use of the space, and credit is owed to Director Kim Blackwell for that. The pacing is good and the transitions quick and seamless (something the stage manager in me was admittedly very excited by).
The cast members all have strong comedic timing, and together create an incredibly believable family unit. They drive each other mad, get too involved in each other’s lives, but love each other all the same. We are reminded in one particularly poignant scene between Pearl (Karen Glave) and Dwayne (Christian Lloyd) that though love between family members often goes without saying, it still needs to be said.
Though he was on stage for the least amount of time, I really enjoyed Jeremiah Sparks’ performance as the Doctor. As a character outside of the family, he balanced out the sometimes over-the-top humour nicely and really grounded a few of the more difficult moments. Lloyd’s Dwayne was also very memorable, managing to keep his cool even as his family members consistently offered him more than their fair share of advice.
The show finished to tremendous laughter, applause and a standing ovation, and is worth making part of a night out during the Festival. The theatre’s bar will likely be open upstairs, so grab a drink, sit back and enjoy a bit of good old fashioned nasty business.
Chicken Grease is Nasty Business plays at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue)
Saturday August 9, 7:30pm
Sunday August 10, 10:00pm
Tuesday August 12, 4:30pm
Thursday August 14, 7:00pm
Friday August 15, 4:30pm
Saturday August 16, 12:00pm
All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at http://summerworks.ca, by phone by calling the Ticketwise Call Centre at 416-907-0468, in person at the SummerWorks Info Booth – located at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West) August 5th-17th from 10AM – 7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows
Photo provided by the company