A Gentleman’s Club Fringe Show offers some fun and “genteel” improv to a sweaty Factory Studio Theatre audience. The show begins with a song – which cutely mocks the temperature in the room – and from the song, suggestions are created. There were two suggestions last night that came from the song – the first was hard to hear but I am pretty sure it was the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup. The second was author Ayn Rand.
Other than a mention to a Fountainhead pen, I didn’t really see the connection to suggestions here. Usually this would bug me, but it didn’t. Perhaps because it was the amount of fun the four performers were having on stage.
Clearly this is a group that has a good amount of shorthand with each other and the improv was tight and intelligent. The idea is that they are the members or a sort of 1940’s style Gentleman’s Club (I love that this translates to 3 guys and one girl).
All four performers bring different strengths but I loved the way they held each other accountable for their choices. This was funniest when the group decides to take the Orient Express to Burma. Through their banter, they discover there is no Orient Express, that it wouldn’t go to Burma and, of course, that Myanmar sits in Burma’s place.
They get on the train anyway and although they never actually get there, Chris Leville manages to get his hand stuck in a vending machine looking for a bag of Ringolos. By the end, three of the four cast members get stuck in the machine.
I enjoyed how the lights determined the flashbacks rather than the actors – a testament to Stage Manager Andrew Haggith in the booth. Some fun moments were here in these flashbacks of loves lost – at sea, at a wedding, at a prom. I have to say the musical improvisational accompaniment of Mark Bond was truly top notch as well. Having the pianist right on stage coloured the creation of the scenes and it really added to the theming of this show.
The idea of a high society club doing improv isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, but it seemed to add just enough structure to give the witty cast some fun places to go. Although this group seems on the young side, they have the chops to keep the laughs coming.
Director: Lisa Merchant
Cast: Chris Leveille, Jordan Markowski, Chris Wakelin, Carolyn Williamson, and Musical Director Mark Bond
Venue 13 Factory Studio Theatre
Thu, July 14 11:15 PM
Fri, July 15 3:45 PM
Sat, July 16 3:30 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