COOPED By Cal McCrystal, Aitor Basauri, Stephan Kreiss, Petra Massey and Toby Park, directed by McCrystal (Spymonkey). At the Premiere Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West). To March 14. $40. 416-973-4000. Rating: NN
Comedy is a subjective thing, but I wasn’t the only one not laughing at a weekend matinee of Cooped, the most artistically questionable entry I’ve seen in any World Stage series.
The imported Brit farce calls itself a “deliciously demented take on the pulp gothic novella,” which is the first problem. Who, exactly, reads those these days?
Reclusive upper-class gent Forbes Murdston (Toby Park) has hired young sexpot Laura (Petra Massey) to be his secretary.
Laura’s barely stepped through the manor door before she’s French-kissing the sex-starved German butler (Stephan Kreiss), battling Forbes’s family lawyer (Aitor Basasuri) and – oh, yes – farting to her heart’s content, because she has gastric issues.
The actors and director Cal McCrystal have also written the show, but they don’t realize that even stock characters need backstory. How else to care about them when they’re running around naked or breaking into an impromptu song-and-dance number?
The actors are likeable clowns, and Massey demonstrates the nimble moves of a gymnast.
But it’s telling that the most memorable part of the production is Lucy Bradridge’s design, which earns its laughs with each self-consciously tacky prop and misguided attempt at realism.