I went into 2-MAN NO-SHOW from Zoot Zoot Productions expecting some high energy slapstick comedy from a polished couple of performers. What I did not expect was to hug them both and feel a sort of communion with them and everyone else in the room – those of us daring enough to go up on the stage when invited, at least, which seemed to be more than half of the people in attendance.
As it starts, Ken Hall is dressed like a Mountie and Isaac Kessler is dressed like what seems to be a bear. No real explanation is given for these, but it adds a level of absurd humour to everything that transpires.
After a couple of shenanigans the duo settle into a sketch where Isaac Kessler is a sea lion, or some such creature, doing tricks at Marineland, and Ken Hall is his keeper/master. This allows for a lot of physical hilarity, and the two are very adept at using everything they have, most notably the huge height difference between them. The height thing gives them some tricks and gags, but it’s really their boundless enthusiasm and energy that makes everything work so fantastically.
This sketch turns into a horror movie scene (rather apropos to recent news stories about Marineland) and ends with a wonderful groaner of a bad pun. Then, through a series of ridiculous (in a good way) events, Hall and Isaac end up in a dinghy in the ocean talking about their experiences being alienated as teenagers. It was clear that this was real now, that they were talking about their own true history, and if proof was needed they provided it in the form of class photos projected on the backdrop.
This didn’t mean that things weren’t funny anymore. There is always a sort of hysterical humour to reliving the pain of the past, and Hall and Kessler took us there, invited us all to have that catharsis with them, and then got us all up on stage. And I won’t say what happened after that because you deserve to experience it yourself. I will say that when it was all over, we went back and sat in our seats. We knew it was done: it was a perfect ending. But it didn’t feel like an hour had gone by and we wanted more. At least, I assume that was going on for everyone else who continued to sit in their seats along with me, when it was obviously time to leave.
See it. Get up on stage. You won’t regret it.
- 2-MAN NO-SHOW plays at Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse at 79 St George St
- Performances are:
July 05 10:30 PM
July 07 07:15 PM
July 09 06:30 PM
July 10 05:45 PM
July 11 06:00 PM
July 12 11:00 PM
July 14 05:45 PM
- Tickets for all Mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only.
- Advance tickets are $11, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062 ext. 1), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West)
- Money-saving value packs are also available; see website for details.
- LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
Photo of Isaac Kessler & Ken Hall provided by Zoot Zoot Productions