Everyone Loves Sea Land is a “Disco musical parody” by Marshall Lorenzo, playing as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. The show was formerly titled Everyone Loves Marineland until the water park threatened legal action and issued a cease-and-desist order. You’d think that, given multiple allegations of animal abuse in its recent history, Marineland would be ripe for a satirical skewering. Unfortunately, Sea Land is less of a satire and more of a hot mess.
The elements of a great satire are there on paper: orca trainer/aspiring actor Nathaniel (Kristopher Bowman) and plucky animal rights activist Krystal (Gillian Bartolucci) both get hired at Sea Land, a fledgeling water park looking to rebrand its image. Along the way they uncover and attempt to foil an evil plot by the park’s money grubbing PR executive Sloane (Maren Sigson). It’s a great set up.
Unfortunately, I thought the show completely belly flopped in its execution. I found the plot muddled and confusing, and it felt really aimless and unfocused. I also think the show features too many excess characters that don’t really serve a useful purpose and seem to exist only to mug for the audience and contribute to the pile-up of throwaway jokes.
The show really seemed to struggled to find its tone. It’s reaching to be satire one moment, then it’s high camp the next and then devolves into a farce. The show is mired in a rapid-fire stream of obvious and easy throwaway one-liners and lines that aren’t even particularly funny but rely on a goofy delivery to get a laugh.
In my opinion, the satire was often misdirected; why pick an easy target like the Buffalo/Niagara region when there were so many other targets that would result in more clever, biting satire?
It seemed as though director Shari Hollett wasn’t able to reign in the unwieldy script; the timing and rhythm of the show felt off; the jokes are so scattershot and none are really given time to breathe. Only about one joke in eight landed successfully for me, the rest elicited more of a “WTF?” reaction.
Being a “disco” musical, there are some fun, campy numbers, but most are only tangentially related to the plot: empty calorie diversions.
On opening night there were also significant problems with the audio mix with mics cutting out, which meant that only half of the dialogue/lyrics were audible. I really had to struggle to hear what was being said even from the second row.
All in all, it’s a serviceable concept and there might be a really fun, clever and pithy, satirical show buried in there somewhere, but I think Everyone Loves Sea Land needs several significant re-writes to get there.
- Everyone Loves Sea Land is playing until July 12 at Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst St)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
- Warnings: Gunshots, Mature Language
- July 05 at 10:30 PM
- July 06 at 06:30 PM
- July 07 at 03:15 PM
- July 09 at 07:30 PM
- July 11 at 12:30 PM
- July 12 at 03:30 PM
Photo of Gillian Bartolucci by Marshall Lorenzo