Yellow Robot and the Temple of Todd by Neil Jones, Bill Kitcher and Lisa Morneau, directed by Julianne Baragar, with Melanie Hunter, Morneau, Jon Hoss, Ben McLean, Justin Renwick and Paul Snepsts. Poor Alex Cabaret (296 Brunswick). Runs to June 5, Friday-Saturday 8 pm. $10. 416-769-5257. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Yellow Robot and the Temple of Todd, an all-new comedy revue that opened last weekend and concludes Saturday, contains some solid writing, some good physical work and a couple of sketches that are as whimsical and absurd as the show's title.
Chief writers Neil Jones and Bill Kitcher tend to ignore topical or political humour. Instead, they find laughs in everything from the quasi-military origins of Kentucky Fried Chicken products to alternative funeral arrangements.
The best sketches draw on our deepest fears, such as mortality, sexual repulsion or pondering a mysterious yucky substance on the sidewalk.
The most surprising sketch is set in a barnyard, where our first impressions are hilariously upended.
Neither Jones nor Kitcher acts in the show, and of the six performers only one, Lisa Morneau , has a hand in the writing. This is different from most comedy outfits, where the actors improvise and usually help create the show.
Maybe because of this, a few sketches seem grafted onto the troupe. One, a send-up of performance art, is well choreographed - director Julianne Baragar has a sharp eye for staging - but a bit stale. Another piece about a chair seems like a clown exercise gone awry. And the final sketch, a twist on the Terminator movies, collapses in on its own supposed cleverness.
The six-person cast is comfortable enough onstage, but a couple of them are hard to tell apart. It takes a while for the individual actors' strengths to emerge.
The most compelling performers are Jon Hoss , whose depiction of a sports announcer losing confidence in his pronunciation is reminiscent of Rowan Atkinson, and Ben McLean , who's able to quickly and efficiently establish a character.
One note. The show goes on way too long. Generally, sketch comedy shows don't need to last longer than a couple of hours.