good's good, evil's bad written and performed by Matt Baram, Paul Constable, Derek Flores, Rebecca Northan, Jamillah Ross and Naomi Snieckus, directed by Doug Morency. Presented by Second City (56 Blue Jays Way). Limited run, Thursday to Saturday 8 pm, late show Saturday 10:30 pm. $17-$34. 416-343-0011. Rating: NN
In the final minutes of Second City 's new revue, Good's Good, Evil's Bad , the performers come out and reprise key moments from the night's big sketches. It's an embarrassing, self-congratulatory move - the equivalent of a syrupy film score being cranked up high right before the credits roll. What makes it really awkward is that none of those resurrected sketches was very funny to begin with.
The truth is, this show, Second City's 56th, has one of the lowest laughs-per-sketch ratios in recent memory.
Which is pretty bizarre. It's been half a year since the last revue, the timely and inspired Invasion Free Since 1812. The world - and city - hasn't exactly been event-free since then.
Not that you'd know that from the show, which takes unsteady aim at such timely topics as fart jokes in Canadian mines, Nazi conspiracy theories and German experimental theatre.
This last bit, besides owing a big debt to Mike Myers's (much funnier) SNL character Dieter, is performed in bluish-green spandex costumes and funky glasses. Ditching the once-traditional SC uniform of white shirts and black pants has allowed the troupe to hide weak writing behind colourful rags. Wrong move.
And what about that title? It's meant to send up the ridiculous moralizing south of the border, but it's sloppily illustrated in a series of monologues in which cast members come out and talk to us about being evil. Only Jamillah Ross 's monologue about being black and angry has any bite. Director Doug Morency should have placed this at the top of the show and not buried it in the second half.
Too many sketches go nowhere. A dull song about Don Cherry states the obvious. A bit about the Pope being a black female rapper feels tired and pointless. A sketch about a couple up north whose relationship involves lies and Polkaroo barely elicits a chuckle.
None of this feels authentic.
An exception is an early sketch with Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus playing a couple in a doomed relationship. In brief, efficient flashbacks we see all the missteps leading up to their current crisis. We're given context - something most of the other sketches lack.
One of the other successful sketches involves newcomer Derek Flores as a Mexican wrestler who goes ballistic when he sees what interior designer Snieckus has done to his Rosedale mansion. We're given solid details, as well as graceful performances by Snieckus (who shines elsewhere as a jaded woman getting a bikini wax) and Flores, a terrific clown who embodies both comedy and tragedy in his unique manner.
New member Rebecca Northan holds her own, too. The problem isn't the performances. It's the writing, which feels like it belongs at a campus talent night.
Good's good, evil's bad - and so is this show.