Hairy Patter and the Improviser's Stone created by Barry Wilson, directed by Wilson and Ralph Macleod, with Jan Caruana, Sean Browning, Rica Eckersley, Kerry Griffin, Macleod, Craig Monk, Dave Pearce and Wilson. Presented by Bad Dog Theatre (138 Danforth). Runs to October 29, Friday 7:30 pm. $12, youth $8. 416-491-3115. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Bad dog theatre, the home of Theatresports and the hub of the city's improv comedy scene, is trying to shake up traditional notions of theatre with Hairy Patter And The Improviser's Stone . Running every Friday in October, it's a weekly improvised take on that literary and cinematic franchise about a certain bespectacled wizard and his annoying friends.
Aimed at an all-ages crowd, the show follows the same outline as the first book/movie, but throughout the telling the audience is asked for input. Who kills Hairy's parents? What are Hairy's secret powers? What houses do the four students - Hairy ( Barry Wilson ), Herheiny ( Jan Caruana ), Juan ( Dave Pearce ) and Milles Feuilles ( Craig Monk ) - live in? And so on.
Conceived by Wilson and with a cast that changes from week to week, it's a terrific showcase for some of the city's best improvisers to strut their stuff in various improv games and segments.
The show moves quickly from scene to scene, with Ralph Macleod 's Bumbledorf and Rica Eckersley 's Professor MacMonocle often acting as narrators.
Opening night held lots of surprises, including a charades bit where Wilson's Hairy had to guess his powers; a playing-house scenario capped by Pearce's Spanish-speaking student, Juan, finding his parents in a compromising position; and Caruana momentarily morphing into the Wal-Mart TV-commercial happy face only to be shot down by an evil rope-skipping villain named Sadie.
As they say, you had to be there.
A couple of scenes - notably a physical gag set in a closet - didn't work, and Eckersley failed to make the most of a series of songs.
But Caruana, Pearce and Kerry Griffin (hiding beneath a curly wig as Hogrid) give 100 per cent, and musician Matt Reid underscored scenes with his own clever improv at the keyboard.
Putting clever twists on well-known commodities, Bad Dog and Macleod have hold of a nifty idea. What's next? The Improviser Of The Ring? Whose Lion King Is It Anyway?