TIP OF THE MELTING ICEBERG written and performed by Jim Annan, Lauren Ash, Scott Montgomery, Anand Rajaram and Leslie Seiler, directed by Steve Morel (Second City, 51 Mercer). Limited run. $20-$28. 416-343-0011. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Happily, Canada's eternal road trip to hell in a handbasket has provided Second City with fresh and funny fodder for its 59th revue, Tip Of The Melting Iceberg .
The usual sketch format endures, but this time director Steve Morel has downsized the cast from six to five. Producing material for one less person strengthens the writing and keeps cast members Jim Annan , Lauren Ash , Scott Montgomery , Anand Rajaram and new mainstager Leslie Seiler from vying for stage time.
In the opening sketch, which has Annan using a cellphone while driving, Morel uses call waiting as a clever device to motivate cast entrances. Predictably, though, both the car and the scene crash at the end. Soon after, the show ignites when travel agent Seiler books Ash on an Air Canada flight, a caustic scene that could get their Aeroplan miles revoked forever.
The second half needs some editing, but absurdity rules in the best sketches. Ash's hilariously heart-wrenching portrayal of a physically challenged teenage misfit twists your mind, and a crazy zoo sketch plays like Edward Albee Goes To The Improv.
The cast members clearly feel very comfortable together and are uniformly strong (though Seiler fights the giggles), but Rajaram stands out. His unequalled bravery and masterful skill shine when he impersonates a famous spiritual guru while improvising with the audience.
Camellia Koo 's set design allows Morel to use many levels, and the Laugh In-style upper windows keep you wondering where the next belly laugh will come from.