A triumphant finish for Zombie Toronto at the Comedy Bar
So, you’re stuck in the middle of the city, plagued by an army of the undead. There’s absolutely no support from the military or any other form of emergency services, and at any moment you’re likely to run into at least one of these flesh-eaters. What do you do?
That was the premise of Zombie Toronto, which had its closing performance Wednesday night at the Comedy Bar. As one of Bad Dog Theatre’s many improv shows, Zombie Toronto stood out as one of the company’s more memorable productions thanks to its mix of unapologetically silly slapstick humour and no-holds-barred approach to social commentary.
The show was peppered with moments of absolute comedic genius. Take one candid conversation between two survivors looking back on their ordeal:
“Tell me that eating those kids wasn’t the coolest thing you’ve ever done”
“Well, I can’t say they didn’t taste good.”
It was moments like this one that had the audience in stitches. And to the ensemble’s credit, most of the lines delivered during the performance were just as enjoyable.
Whether it was the surprisingly heartbreaking tale of two juvenile siblings just trying to survive or the sheer ridiculousness of an impromptu undead flash mob set to the tune of A-Ha’s Take On Me, the show’s various acts were polished and each actor’s lines were delivered with absolute conviction.
Stand-out star of the show, Kirsten Rasmussen is a comedic-timing ninja. Her quirky brand of girl-next-door charm and penchant for unadulterated randomness saved many skits which otherwise would soon have become tedious and uninteresting.
Speaking of timing, much kudos should be awarded to director Peter Stevens as well. Playing a behind-the-scenes role for much of the production as lights operator and narrator, Stevens definitely pulled the trigger and signalled a skit change just in the nick of time for certain skits that were quickly heading south.
However, it should be noted that there were strong performances all around by the cast. Dan Beirne, Mark Little, Simon Pond, Kyle Dooley, Hannah Spear and Liz Johnston each provided something wonderfully unique to the mix. If, one of the keys to great improv is to simply have fun, this cast definitely unlocked the secret to a memorable performance.
This ensemble definitely enjoyed putting on this show, and as a personal favourite touch, used moments of fictional self-deprecating humour to lighten up the gravity of having endured a zombie-caused end-of-days.
“I have amazing upper body strength. These books, these books here, I’ve been using them as dumbbells because I never actually learned how to read. Damn you, public education system.”
A bit lacking at times, however, was audience engagement. In fact, on the show’s web page there’s a form to outline your very own apocalypse survival plan. This, in addition to the almost textbook improv questions asked at the beginning of the show should have laid the framework for unique plot lines and localized storytelling. After all, the show’s name is Zombie Toronto.
Instead, audience participation during certain skits could only be described as formulaic at best. And the formula was: let’s get the audience to tell us a place name, and we’ll just say our story takes place there.
The show ran every Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. from May 22nd – June 19th at the Comedy Bar located at 945 Bloor St. W.