SHUT UP AND SHOW US YOUR TWEETS! written and performed by Rob Baker, Dale Boyer, Adam Cawley, Darryl Hinds, Caitlin Howden and Reid Janisse. At the Second City (51 Mercer). Limited run. $23-$28, some stu $15. 416-343-0011. See listing. Rating: NNN
Second City's latest features a number of firsts. It's the first mainstage show directed by SC alumnus Sandy Jobin-Bevans. Three new performers are debuting on the mainstage. And it's the first SC Toronto show to employ a screen to project video.
Chalk it up to these factors, which will pay off over time, but Shut Up And Show Us Your Tweets!, the institution's 64th revue, isn't one of its best. Then again, it'd be hard to top their last outing, 0% Down, 100% Screwed, which captured the zeitgeist so cleverly.
Things get off to a good start on Camellia Koo's revamped set with an opening number about how our love affair with smartphones has dumbed us down socially. The song has great energy, and Jobin-Bevans has choreographed the complicated action down to the last button-push. But as in much of the show, the text could be sharper.
The next few scenes go nowhere new. Especially pointless is a sketch about a lawyer (Caitlin How den) drawing up a living will for a couple (Darryl Hinds and newcomer Dale Boyer). Other scenes, like a phone sex bit between a stay-at-home husband (Rob Baker) and his exec wife (Howden) feel like improvisation exercises.
The show begins to catch on during the act-one closer, a surprising take on race via a repeated "there goes the neighbourhood" scenario. Featuring Baker and Boyer as parents of son Reid Janisse, the sketch is full of ridiculous cultural stereotypes, each more offensive than the last, with nobody escaping the punchline. The ending is inevitable but perfect. This one's a keeper.
Strangely, the second act is stronger than the first. It boasts a clever Motown-style number sung by pleading auto execs, a lively (if hectoring) town hall debate on U.S. health care and a solid though overwritten scene about a frustrated computer user (Janisse) being punked by a customer service rep (Hinds) in India.
This is Hinds's final mainstage revue, and it's a gift. He shows off his mischievous streak as the phone guy, demonstrates physical grace in a word less bit about how electronic sounds are enslaving us and makes not one but two appearances as a high-maintenance U.S. Southerner.
The cast's newcomers will eventually find their voices, and future directors will likely use the projection screen to do more than establish setting. But let's hope they come up with better material than an ongoing series of poorly set-up scenarios about Alberta running the country and a chorus of whiners complaining about our various levels of government. [rssbreak]