Review: Wasteland (Sex T-Rex)

Photo of Sex T-Rex's WastelandToronto sketch troupe Sex T-Rex left audience in stitches with their remount of Wasteland

I think I may have to start calling myself a Sex T-Rex fan now. Their latest production Wasteland, coming off of rave reviews from this year’s Toronto and Montreal Fringes and currently playing at The Second City Toronto, is the third Sex T-Rex production I have seen (fourth if you count the fact that I saw Swordplay twice) and I still continue to be impressed by their boundless creativity and consistent delivery of a rollicking good time.

Wasteland takes place in a post-apocalyptic landscape where all of our most beloved buildings have been blown-up and the only thing keeping ravenous mutants away is the 80s/90s pop classics broadcasted from a mysterious radio station aptly called “Graceland”. After the generic plucky protagonist meets an untimely end, our only hopes now lie upon the shoulders of lovable schmuck Ernest who has to brave the harsh roads of the Wasteland to keep the music of Graceland alive.

The reason why the above story may feel strangely familiar is because Sex T-Rex’s scripted comedies are generally smart spoofs of popular cultural genres. While the most blatant references in Wasteland can be traced to Mad Max, the company deserves a lot more credit for taking inspiration from a wide variety of sources including The Wizard of Oz and Adventure Time (the animated television show that is itself a pastiche of post-apocalyptic fiction). There’s even a delightful sequence set to the tunes of an internet meme.

While the plot of Wasteland doesn’t feel as intricate as some of their previous productions, this is probably Sex T-Rex’s most technically ambitious show yet. Director Alex Toller should be commended for staging that continues to push the boundaries of physical theatre and Stage Manager Sonia Vaillant deserves all the praise for keeping up with all the commotion onstage.

The only times the show lost me was when the company decided to describe a spectacle rather than show it. Although I can understand that the actors probably needed a breather, Sex T-Rex so often finds a way to represent the impossible onstage that the moments where they just stand around and describe what they see was a bit disappointing.

Fortunately, those moments are rare and very far in between due to the strong work of the company of Danny Pagett, Conor Bradbury, Julian Frid, Kaitlin Morrow, and Seann Murray. Sex T-Rex has one of those rare ensembles that not only have tremendous chemistry with each other, but also with the audience. Laughter was abound throughout the evening and even the penis jokes and dad puns that deserve a good eye-roll were sidesplitting due to the commitment and pitch-perfect timing of all the performers.

If you enjoy impromptu dance parties, a great soundtrack, topical references, and a well-made comedy created by a highly talented cast and crew, then you need to get thee to a Sex T-Rex production!

Details:

Image from Wasteland provided by the company.