SASS and THE CITY written and performed by Lauren Ash, Sarah Buski, Jan Caruana and Rica Eckersley. Presented by Fox Force Five at the Bad Dog Theatre (138 Danforth). Runs to February 25, Friday 10 pm. $10. 416-491-3115. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
Put down that cosmo and get your Manolos over to Bad Dog Theatre . Till the end of the month, four talented funny women are adding improv and a Toronto twist to a certain now-defunct HBO series in a weekly show called Sass And The City .
For about a millionth of the budget, all the SATC archetypes are in place, with a few sassy references added for fun.
Lauren Ash plays controlling businesswoman Amanda, Sarah Buski is struggling journalist Katie, who's hoping to land a column at NOW Magazine (just don't take my job, bitch!), Jan Caruana's Charlotte is the proper Yonge and Eligible type, and Rica Eckersley's Maxine has gone through all the straight men in the city and so decides to seduce her gay friend Manfred.
Working on a limited playing area - can't help thinking the Tim Sims dual-stage set-up would have helped make things move more gracefully - the foursome create a tight show filled with lots of honest and hilarious observations.
It's too bad an audience member offered up the word "shoes" as the show's improvised theme. (As anyone knows, shoes played a pretty major part in the original series.) But ever the troopers, the quartet still got a lot of mileage out of the word, integrating it cleverly ("soulmate," "feel like an old shoe") into their respective plot lines.
And what plot lines. Besides Maxine's attempt to set Manfred ( Jason Gemmill ) straight, Katie meets a guy (the razor-sharp Rob Hawke ) whose name she doesn't know, Amanda falls for a man with a girlish name ( Jim Annan ) who turns out to be homeless, and Charlotte keeps failing at breaking up with her boyfriend ( Greg Komorowski ).
These may sound more like Seinfeld plots, but how graphic can you get in a 60-seat theatre?
The point is, the troupe has the formula down pat. As in the series, the heart of the show remains the foursome's raunchy round-table talks, and they hit their character beats with style.
The big acting discovery for me is Ash. Her delivery of some lines is note perfect, and her scenes with the spontaneous Annan were show-stoppers.
Buski's narrator character needs some work. Her voice lacks authority. And some of the technical aspects of the show - how does one couple replace another on the stage? - should be fixed over the month.
But I can think of no better way of spending Friday nights than with this sassy, smart group of women and their stable of rotating improv studs.