Review: Faking Bad (Bad Dog Theatre)

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Faking Bad is for the fans, at Toronto’s Bad Dog Theatre

It has often been said that the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. But the most hilarious form of flattery is parody. Faking Bad is Bad Dog Theatre’s comedic take on the AMC hit drama series, Breaking Bad.

Staying true to the television show’s cannon, Faking Bad similarly chronicles a terminally-ill high school teacher’s foray into drug dealing in order to provide financial stability for his family. But unlike the original series, this parody (currently playing at the Comedy Bar) takes a sharp U-turn into the realm of nonsensical slapstick folly.

Each week, a different season of the TV drama was serialized – with this week’s performance summing up season four. Fans of the series will immediately recognize director Etan Muskat’s overt nods to the plotline, which won’t be spoiled for you here. It was apparent that Muskat is most likely a fan of Breaking Bad, since his vision for this parody not only respected the cannon, it also perfectly captured the subtle nuances of the drama’s characters.

Whether it was the nonchalant demeanor of Skyler White (played by Dale Boyer) or the frantic and aloof behaviour of her husband Walter White (played by Bruce Hunter), each actor was able to channel his or her series counterpart.

But a special mention should be awarded to the standout star of the night, Conor Bradbury. Quick witted yet clumsily endearing, he was able to save many skits that otherwise would have completely flopped. It should, however, be noted that there were no performances that could be considered weak.

In the world of improv, there’s no safety net. And so, actors always run the risk of not connecting with each other or with their audience. Unfortunately, in tonight’s performance this happened more than once. The opening skit was received with only a lukewarm reception, and the entire performance was peppered with moments of awkward silence. At times it seemed like there was little synergy between certain groupings of the performers. However, the general flow of this week’s Faking Bad was still well-received by the audience and included some comedic gems like:

“Let’s not beat around your bush,” which was a passive-aggressive retort said by Mr. White to his wife regarding their lackluster relationship. It was a line that had the entire audience in stitches.

For the most part, the tone of humour was obscene and vulgar. But Breaking Bad fans will be able to appreciate how the actors of Faking Bad mimicked the mature tone of the series.

This show was definitely geared to fans of the AMC drama. And because of this, spectators who did not need any background information or additional context found it hilarious from start to finish, myself included. However, as I looked around the audience from time to time, it was apparent that this show would probably not appeal to a general audience that is unfamiliar with the series itself.

For that reason, I would only recommend Faking Bad to diehard Breaking Bad fans. So, if you find yourself in that category, be sure to check out the final curtain call (inspired by the events of season five), next Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.

Details:

  • Faking Bad is playing at the Comedy Bar (945 Bloor St. W.)
  • Final Performance: Wednesday, August 7th at 9:30 p.m.
  • Tickets cost $12 for adults, $10 for students and are available online, by phone at 416-551-6540 or at the door.

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