In The Strapping Young Lads (playing at the Annex Theatre as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival), two best friends are awakened by a beautiful tropical sunrise and react with total horror. They’d been promised the world would end the previous night, and have spent the last six months living as if it would. Now they’re broke, alone in the world, and being pursued through the jungle by cockfighting Columbian gangsters. Will they survive?
Christopher Schulz and Christoff Lundgren are bold actors who really go for the part: they have a great sense of physical comedy, they play off each other extremely well, and they’re game for just about anything the script throws at them.
Which is a shame, because as far as I can tell, the script is a fifty-minute excuse to make dick jokes.
That’s how this show felt to me; as if two friends sat down and had a lengthy conversation about “And wouldn’t it be hilarious if THIS happened?” and “OH MAN WE SHOULD TOTALLY PUT THAT IN THE SHOW!” and then did exactly that. The expectation is that the kooky hijinx which ensue will be enough to carry the show, even if narrative, setting and characterization are ignored.
Sometimes it works: there’s a lot of really good comedy writing in this piece, and the audience did laugh on occasion. But these moments are often so disjointed and disconnected from the rest of the show that, in my view, the whole thing just doesn’t hang together especially well.
And in between these moments of brilliance, there are lines and scenes which should really be reconsidered. (For example, the mercifully brief–yet uncomfortably long–argument about whether a rape is a “real” rape or merely a “technical” rape.)
In short, there’s a good solid start here, and some excellent performers to get it off the ground. But without more narrative, more character work, and some careful (and cruel) editing, this never seemed to rise above the level of two guys hanging out in a bar making jokes about sticking things up their butts.
- The Strapping Young Lads plays at Venue 5 – The Annex Theatre (736 Bathurst Ave., entrance and box office in the parking lot)
- Showtimes are July 05 08:45 PM, July 07 05:45 PM, July 08 04:00 PM, July 09 03:15 PM, July 10 10:15 PM, July 12 12:00 PM, July 14 07:30 PM
- All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only). Tickets are also available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, or in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows
Photograph of Christopher Schulz and Christoff Lundgren provided by the company.