Angels and Aliens (Active Salad Productions) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Jeff Leard and Sydney Hayduk

The supernatural comedy Angels and Aliens, from Active Salad Productions is making its Toronto debut at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival 2016.

When roommates Sydney (Sydney Hayduk) and Jeff (Jeff Leard) have sex, they avoid their awkward morning-after breakfast by downloading a two-player world building game, iBang, where they become the governors of a new evolving planet; Sydney is in charge of Aliens, and Jeff of the Angels. As their relationship worsens, so do the conditions of their fictional world, which closely resembles that of our own deteriorating earth.

The spacey pre-show audio let the audience know what it was in for right away, and that this would be all the more fun if we could get on board with Active Salad Productions. A cosmic voice spouted questions and requests into the ether – Why did God invent cement? Do the hokey pokey – and most illicited laughs, though the person next to me declined the request of ‘touch your neighbour’s knee’, which I was very fine with. The audience was down.

What followed was sixty minutes of super high-energy comedy that barely took its foot off the pedal as we watched two regular humans being held directly responsible for the increasingly horrible things happening in their self-created App world. I would describe their game iBang as a too-close-to-home, heavy on the morality Sims. We switch between watching Sydney and Jeff directly controlling the game from their kitchen table, to their two worlds of angels and aliens acting on the commands and reporting back on the consequences.

The tech-savvy Aliens, or Bobs as they referred to themselves, adorably probed and pulled leavers from their outer space and underwater laboratories to direct the earth’s activity. Meanwhile, the (British) Angels were hoping that a simple list of rules, or commandments, would be the most effective way to run a planet. We run the gamut of civilization from biblical beginnings in the Garden of Eden through the World Wars to present day.

Sydney and Jeff (the actors) whip between the three worlds to play all of the characters, never letting their energy or the pace of the show dip. There were moments where they broke character and abandoned the script to address the audience which interrupted the show unnecessarily, but otherwise Angels and Aliens was fast and funny, and their performance tight. The two have great chemistry as performers, and created fun-to-watch relationships between both the Aliens and Angels, and Sydney and Jeff -the feelings-avoiding roommates.

Whilst I would rather not believe that we are all being controlled by hungover twenty-somethings tapping away on a Smartphone to avoid confrontation, I will happily entertain the idea that all angels sound like Hugh Laurie.

Details

  • Angels & Aliens plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. (16 Ryerson Ave)
  • Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warnings: Mature Language, Sexual Content.
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible.

Performances

  • Wednesday June 29th, 07:00 pm
  • Friday July 1st, 04:00 pm
  • Saturday July 2nd, 12:30 pm
  • Monday July 4th, 11:00 pm
  • Wednesday July 6th, 05:45 pm
  • Thursday July 7th, 01:45 pm
  • Saturday July 9th, 05:15 pm

Photo of Jeff Leard and Sydney Hayduk provided by the company