By Darryl Pring
There are two kinds of sketch troupes. Those who rely on dick/fart jokes and those who don’t. Charles is the latter kind of troupe. Charlie Stockman and Chuck Armstrong lean toward high status, smart writing rather than getting an easy laugh in their piece at the Toronto Fringe Festival – Relentless.
I attended the Canadian premiere of this Seattle based duo at Factory Theatre’s studio space at 10:30pm on the first day of Fringe, with eight other hopeful audience members. For the most part it was entertaining. But with a house that small it is next to impossible to have a hot show.
This is a common problem for out of town acts that come to Toronto. The solution is to have a kick ass show, and with a good director, this show has that potential.
The writing was quite strong. Nothing seemed stock or easily predicted. My favourite line of the night was uttered by a swat recruiter, ‘Chicks dig heroism indiscriminately.’ There was a real effort made to ‘Canadianize’ the show, even Moose Jaw was mentioned at one point. Clearly, these guys did their homework.
I wish they had put the same effort into their presentation. The transitions between sketches were sloppy, the lighting at times was too dark and the sound cues were set inexcusably low. An objective third eye would have solved all of these problems. A good director would also have pushed for an energetic pace, though the lack of butts in seats may have been a reason for its absence.
With all that said, I still quite enjoyed my time at Charles: Relentless Sketch Comedy. While it wasn’t relentless, it was still entertaining.
Relentless Sketch Comedy Venue 13 – Factory Theatre Studio
Sat, July 3 9:30 PM – 1318
Sun, July 4 7:30 PM – 1324
Mon, July 5 1:15 PM – 1327
Thu, July 8 11:15 PM – 1352
Fri, July 9 3:45 PM – 1355
Sat, July 10 3:30 PM – 1362
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by Phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows