This afternoon, I watched The LOVE Octagon at the Theatre Passe Muraille, featuring Chris Craddock and Ron Pederson. I came into the show not knowing what it would be about – just that it would be a comedic show about love and relationships.
The two actors first asked audience members to share their one-night-stand and break-up stories. A group of college students attending giddily volunteered a story involving themselves: girl dates guy, girl’s female friend dates the same guy, and then female friend gets a crush on the other girl. Complicated, right? Other audience tales were also incorporated into the play.
Craddock and Pederson have extensive experience in improv comedy. Pederson, a Jimmy Fallon lookalike, was on the show MAD TV for a number of years and currently performs at the National Theatre of The World. Though I am wary of ill-prepared improv, I found Chris and Ron very refreshing and clever. They’re the kind of guys I would want to be friends with – especially in times of needing a comedic cheer-up.
The duo got quite a few laughs, especially from the group of students who were watching their own relationships performed onstage. I admired the actors for their quickness and their ability to roll with the punches. My favourite part is when the two men play the roles of young teenage high school girls. Their “asides” to discuss the play’s direction was cute, too.
Perhaps the larger the audience gets, the better the play would be. That’s just my guess. I say that because the bigger the audience, the greater the likelihood of a really wild/funny story being shared and the more material the actors have to work with. Though this audience was mid-sized, they still did a great job of using the audience’s material.
The pianist provided a fun musical soundtrack and helped bring various lighthearted atmospheres to the quick-changing scenes. He did bring his kid, which surprised me given the sexual content in the play. The little boy sat with his dad onstage halfway through the play (cue the “awws”).
I would describe this play as Love Actually: The Bawdy Version – with elements of real-life stories from the audience incorporated into their general plotline. It’s worth checking out if you have an interest in improv comedy. And if you’ve got a group of friends with a raunchy story to tell, this show is especially for you.
Choreographer: Naomi Sneikus
Cast: Chris Craddock and Ron Pederson
Costume Design: Matt Barum
Warning: Sexual Content, Mature Language, Audience Participation
Venue: Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, 16 Ryerson Ave.
Thu, July 7 8:15 PM
Fri, July 8 5:15 PM
Sun, July 10 Noon
Mon, July 11 10:30 PM
Tue, July 12 6:15 PM
Fri, July 15 2:15 PM
Sat, July 16 10:30 PM
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