Review: Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody (Mirvish)

Spank Alice Moran Patrick Whalen
Singing, dancing, joke-cracking Spank!, parody of Fifty Shades of Gray, takes the stage in Toronto

If you’ve been thinking you want to get tickets to Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody currently being presented by Mirvish, you’ll want to do that quickly. When I went the place was packed, and the audience was loving it. I suspect the shows will be sold out for the whole run.

My show partner Gregg and I agreed it’s a really fun show that has a lot to offer to people who are fans of the book, and people who haven’t read it. I suspect that it would also be fun for people who hated the book.

For context, neither Gregg nor I have read Fifty Shades of Grey, although we do know the gist of the book since it’s been so present in the media. We felt like the script of Spank! is probably filled with inside jokes for people who have read the book, but didn’t feel left out or as though we were missing anything because we hadn’t.

Gregg was quick to point out Patrick Whalen’s portrayal of Hugh Hanson as a high point for him. He was impressed that Whalen was able to find a bit of nuance in an over-the-top role, pointing out that it would have been really easy to have just played it as a bit of a robot and no one would have faulted him for it. I agree with him, I enjoyed the energy Whalen brought to his performance.

I also enjoyed Amanda Barker as the writer E.B. Janet, who is apparently usually part of the US touring cast but appears in the Toronto engagement on November 15 and 16, and Alice Moran as Tasha Woode. These two found a nice energy with each other on stage with some gentle barbs back and forth.

I actually really enjoyed it when they were off script and moving into more improvisation, although I also really appreciated that they pulled it back into the script as soon as it started flattening out. This isn’t to be confused with the bits of audience participation. I have to admit, personally, I kind of hate it when a show sends its performers out into the audience with a microphone.

That said, the bit that made us both cringe? The really painful racist portrayal of the Mexican friend. We both assume it must be some kind of inside joke reference to the book, because we couldn’t imagine why it would be there otherwise, but agreed that since there was going to be a good chunk of the audience who hadn’t read the book it just didn’t belong. We did also talk about why the stereotypical portrayal of a Frenchman didn’t raise our hackles in the same way, ultimately I think it’s because the French are not a marginalized people, but in the US Mexican immigrants are.

Overall though it was a great show with lots of laughs, singing and loud hoots and hollers from the audience. Oh, and a word on the gender of the audience, men are certainly in the minority in the audience, it’s a very woman-heavy audience, but there is nothing about this show that makes it for women only. Men are just as capable of laughing at silly and raunchy jokes as women.

So, if you’re looking for a night of high art, give this a miss, but for some great laughs and some over the top ridiculousness, Spanked! is definitely worth checking out.

Details

  • Spank! plays at the Panisonic Theatre (651 Yonge St) till November 18, 2012
  • Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm. and 9:30 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm.
  • Ticket prices are $48.25 and $58.25
  • Tickets available in person at Ticket King outlets, by phone at (416) 872-1212 or toll-free at 1-800-461-3333, or online at www.ticketking.com

 Photo of Alice Moran and Patrick Whalen by Paul Schnaittacher