Review: Bad Dog Theatre Short Play Festival

by Dorianne Emmerton

The Bad Dog Theatre Short Play Festival showcases original Canadian comedic short plays and runs for one week, with four shows a night. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to go to all four shows in one night, you can just pick one if you’d prefer, there’s one every hour from 7 to 10pm.

Starting Over (by Adam Hunter Collier)

On Wednesday the evening started off with Starting Over, a twenty minute comedic piece about a young man, Richard (Philippe Poirier) at his first psychiatrist appointment. He had felt insincere in his corporate job so he tried being “open and honest” in the office which led to him being fired.

When he first arrives he wants a the quick fix of a Zoloft prescription but the psychiatrist, a very eccentric older lady (Patricia Garnett-Smith) is more interested in getting him to talk and employs a number of quirky methods to encourage him to do so.

Over the course of the session we see into his relationship with his wife Sue (Jennifer Neales) who places him under a lot of pressure and stress, both related to his career and separate from it as well.

One aspect of the premise struck me as a little illogical, but the general idea of the need to put on a false persona in the office definitely rings true.

Most of the real laughs came from the psychiatrist character. Of course anxiety and the slow breakdown of a marriage aren’t subject matters that lend themselves easily to comedy.

Missed Connections (by Toni Maggio)

Conversely, the second show, Missed Connections, was exactly the sort of thing you always see in comedy: he loves her and she loves him but she thinks he loves this other girl but she loves that guy over there – and so on. As soon as you meet all six characters you know exactly who is going to fall in love with who; and that’s not a bad thing because this is a musical comedy.

Clark (Peter Aitcheson) and Sue (Hayley Kellet) work together at a small independent magazine which features a “Missed Connections” section. “Missed Connections” is where people who feel they had a spark with a stranger can write in to try and find them again. Sam (Kristopher Bowman) is their boss who has a missed connection of his own at a coffee shop with Katie (Laura Toffen.) Mabel (Toni Maggio, also the playwright) is a photographer they hire who has stalker tendencies and falls immediately for Sam. Mick (Josh Murray) is Sam’s socially inept and nerdtastic roommate.

This would not have been nearly as funny as it was if it wasn’t a musical. I always find a punch line that rhymes and is sung funnier than the same joke spoken. In fact sometimes the rhyme itself is the joke, or the singing, as when Lauren Toffen broke the entire audience up with an impressive and hilarious display of operatic vocalization.

The entire cast was high energy and while some were stronger singers that others, they all held their own on the stage. Even the most cliché joke was played with such enthusiasm that it still was chuckle-worthy. This was definitely my favourite show of the night.

Details

– The Bad Dog Theatre Short Play Festival is at Bad Dog Theatre at 138 Danforth Avenue until July 31 2010.

– Shows run every hour at 7, 8, 9 and 10 pm

– Tickets are $12 per short play ($10 for Bad Dog members.)

– For more details, www.baddogtheatre.com or call 416.491.3115