2018 Next Stage Festival Review: Leila Live! (Laugh With Leila Productions)

Photo of Leila by Stuart Lowe PhotographyI have forever been meaning to see (yet somehow always managing to miss) a show by Laugh With Leila Productions. So I was excited to discover that the self-styled Persian Princess with a cult following is back with a riotous new performance, Leila Live!, playing in the Factory Theatre Antechamber as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival.

The show is loosely built around an amusing anecdote, if you are looking for a plot there isn’t one. Let me, however, say up front that this was in no way detrimental to my enjoyment of the performance. Leila shares her experience of following and befriending an influencer on Instagram, getting invited to a party at Casa Loma and the emotional turmoil that ensues as she slowly realizes that she is being marketed to and hasn’t in fact made a real friend.

The events are simple enough making the episode a vehicle for the diva to keep us entertained through song, dance, confessional style monologues and puppetry. At the center of this 30-minute show is Leila with her larger than life personality.

Essentially, this performance is a showcase of the character, Leila, and boy is she engrossing. She dominates the space with her wit, style, sheer sass and re-imagining of classic songs (stay tuned for her rendition of Disney’s “A Whole New World” as she recounts her arrival at Casa Loma on a magic carpet).

The songs and puppetry are not virtuosic performances (and I don’t believe they are meant to be), but, they sure are creative and the lyrics are side-splitting. The bite-sized format ensures that there is no lag in the laughter and leaves you wanting more.

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Photo of Leila by Stuart Lowe Photography