Hilarious is the word that best describes That’s Just 5 Kids in a Trench Coat! by Dame Judy Dench, playing at the Toronto Fringe 2015. As a sketch comedy revue, the performance fits the bill perfectly. It is a string of sketches that entail significant comments on almost everything under the sun, communicated in a refreshingly comical way.
I was particularly impressed by the skill with which the writers/performers gave the performance a structure despite the disparity of the scenarios that constituted it.
In this performance, the obsession with hand sanitizers existed alongside the fixation on zombies. The mania about health food was put beside the paranoia about the apocalypse. And somehow, the juxtaposition didn’t seem absurd even for a moment.
However, the main reason why I thoroughly enjoyed That’s Just Five Kids in a Trench Coat! is because it was genuinely funny. When a scene was grim, it was funny; when it was gross, it was funny; when it was heart-wrenching, it was still funny.
The sequences and dialogues were incredibly witty and ingenious in ripping apart people and situations that most of us may have encountered at some point in our lives. They also paid homage to popular characters we grew up watching by disbanding them until they became unrecognizably ridiculous.
In addition, the performers were instrumental in making disturbing yet ludicrous caricatures out of the people and characters exposed in the sketches. Chris Leveille, Jessica Greco, Claire Farmer, Shannon Lahaie and Gavin Pounds were bold, confident, mature and full of energy throughout the performance. Each of them had a resounding voice and a powerful stance which kept me engrossed throughout.
In my opinion, Chris Leveille was the star of the show. His indisputable talent and spontaneity took the performance to a whole new level every time he appeared on stage. Irrespective of the character he played, his diction, his gestures, his postures and his expressions were flawless.
Joseph Landau and his guitar deserve special mention as they welcomed the audience as it entered the theatre before the performance, and bid farewell to it after the performance ended. Landau was charming as he occupied his distinct corner for the entire duration of the performance. His music was comforting to the ears and a fitting match to some of the scenes being enacted on stage.
The casual setting and minimalist use of props created a breezy atmosphere that made the performance even more enjoyable. The actors and the audience were completely at ease with each other during the performance, and at times even exchanged roles in rather surprising and inventive ways.
The title of the performance is a definite misnomer, as it is much more than just five kids in a trench coat. Join the troupe as it sets the stage on fire with this magnetic blend of effortless humour and hard-hitting satire.
- That’s Just 5 Kids in a Trench Coat! is playing until July 12 at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. (79 St. George St)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
- This performance is not accessible for non-English speakers.
- This production contains gunshots, sexual content, mature language and requires audience participation.
- July 05 at 10:15 PM
- July 06 at 03:15 PM
- July 08 at 07:30 PM
- July 10 at 03:30 PM
- July 11 at 12:00 PM
- July 12 at 05:45 PM
Photo of Chris Leveille, Jessica Greco, Claire Farmer, Shannon Lahaie, Gavin Pounds (from L to R) by Acey Hicks Photography