by Lucy Allen
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by the financial crisis in the last couple of years. Heck, even with no assets to my name to lose I find myself scrounging for change in the couch for subway fare. Of course, any world crisis is always ripe for parody and countless plays and tv shows pop up to give their own commentary on the disaster. Spent, which opened last night at the Factory Theatre, is one of those many shows. It’s one of the only shows, though, that does it right.
Spent, created by Theatre Smith-Gilmour, is mainly about two now out of work executives down on their luck immediately after the financial crash of 2008. Over-eduated and unemployed, the men decide to take the extreme way out and soon find themselves on top of a building on Bay Street. From there, they begin a journey to heaven, hell and beyond.
The show is a combination of satire and physical comedy, using both clown and mime to tell the story. Switching back and forth between the two men contemplating their lives and a BBC news broadcast, the show takes a good close look at that took hold of so many and ultimately led to their downfall.
It would be very easy in a show like this to hit the audience over the head with its message, but Spent manages to keep things entertaining and moves the show along before things can get too heavy handed. From the moment one of the men walks out at the top of the show holding a pathetic cardboard sign that says “Hire Me”, the audience was barely able to hold back their laughs for the entire hour length show.
I can’t imagine that the show would be nearly as entertaining though without performers Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen such flawless performances on stage and I can’t imagine the insane amount of energy, talent and technique required to pull it all off. My guest for the evening, Gill, was impressed with their ability to not only switch characters at a moment’s notice, but to keep each of those characters separate without one performance bleeding into the next.
One of the best examples of this (and one of my favourite parts) was a news segment called “Rapid Fire” where Paolozza and Jain played six different people arguing over the plight of the two men. The switches became quick and fevered as the scene went on, but there was never any doubt as to which character was speaking or what was being said. Even though there were only two men on stage, it still sounded like six voices all arguing at once.
The scenes involving the two men uses very little dialogue and relies mostly on mime and physical comedy to tell the story. These were definitely my favourite parts of the show to watch, whether it was watching them eat a meal or fall through the air while flapping their ties in the wind. It was pretty much like watching a cartoon play out on stage.
The best part about the show for me though was the fact that I didn’t necessarily know where it was going or what was going to happen. The slightly absurd nature of Spent made the outcome of each scene somewhat unpredictable. I think as a result a couple of scenes tended to drag but I think that was mostly due to my own anticipation of what would happen next. And I have to say, with the amount of theatre I’ve seen in the last couple of years, it’s getting harder to surprise me so it’s safe to say I enjoyed the unpredictable ride.
At the end of the Spent, both actors came out to encourage everyone to tell one or two friends about the show. They needn’t have bothered. I already had ten friends in mind who I would tell about it. It’s relatable, funny, and intelligent. If you have time in the next couple of weeks and need a good laugh or just need to see some good theatre, go see Spent.
–Spent is playing in the Factory Studio Theatre (125 Bathurst Street) until Nov 28
-Showtimes are Tues-Sat at 8pm and Sun at 2:30pm
-Tickets are $15-28 with PWYC on Sun
-Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 416-504-9971
-Photo provided by Staf Publicity