Classic English lit styles combine with sublime off-the-cuff improv in a hilarious kick-off to The Impulse Festival
They are the esoteric and the random, the witty and the poignant. Hailing all the way from London, The School of Night is a hilarious comedy troupe that employs various literary styles and devices to entertain all those who would listen to their phantasmagorical tales. And last night, three of its members performed one of the opening shows (of the same name) at the first ever Impulse festival.
This was improv at its finest. Effortlessly combining Chaucerian dialect, iambic pentameter and Shakespearian prose, the three performers commanded the stage and incited a steady flow of laughter from the audience. What’s more, the night was as educational as it was entertaining.
The performance began with a brief English lesson, albeit more comical and engaging than the average classes one would take in high school, college or university. Spectators were treated to an introduction to the evolution of modern English usage, complete with historical nods and explanations of literary syntax and grammar.
Each act of this five act Shakespeare-inspired play was told in a different narrative style, ranging from the use of traditional rhyming couplets all the way to an odd, but hilarious mashup of spot-on Woody Allen and Al Pacino (à la Glengarry Glen Ross) impersonations. It even featured a jab at embattled Toronto mayor, Rob Ford.
“Oh, that a mayor would crack under such pressure… mayoral crack?”
Indeed, Alan Cox, Sean McCann and Adam Meggido played off each other’s cues without missing a single beat. And each brought something wonderfully unique to the performance.
Cox embodied the bravado one would expect from a Shakespearian protagonist. Specializing in the lewder and bawdier variety of comedy, Cox was not afraid to take chances on stage. Innuendo and double-entendre were his playground, and he shone at turning even the most subdued subject matter into jokes that would make even the worldliest folk blush.
For his part, Sean McCann was charming and extremely likeable. Acting as both scene setter and educator, McCann’s biggest strength was his ability to relate to and read the audience’s reaction in order to keep the show’s pacing quick and seamless.
Last, but certainly not least, Adam Megiddo was a master of dialects and impressions. Transitioning flawlessly between medieval English, French, and Russian speak, Megiddo often stole the show with his off-the-wall and overly exaggerated theatrics. The way he channelled Woody Allen on stage was sheer genius.
About the Troupe
The School of Night was founded by celebrated British playwright, actor and director Ken Campbell. The name of the troupe was taken from the name of a 16th century humanist cohort of bards, philosophers, poets and scientists. The troupe’s mandate is to “unscrew the bardic tap” of its spectators, in order to promote free through the use of improvisational comedy.
- The School of Night played the opening night of the Impulse festival on Thursday, December 12th at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (55 Tank House Lane in the Distillery District)
- To learn more about this improv group, visit their website.
- For more information on any other of the productions taking place during the Impulse festival, visit Soulpepper’s Festival Details page