Mary Walsh’s uneven show won’t make you dance with joy.
DANCING WITH RAGE by Mary Walsh (Mirvish). At the Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge). To March 24. $25-$79, some rush available. 416-872-1212. See listings. Rating: NN
For her long career in comedy, including her tenure on TV's This Hour Has 22 Minutes, where she crafted signature character Marg Delahunty, Mary Walsh fully deserves her quirky place in the Canadian comedy pantheon. But when people eventually take stock of her accomplishments, the half-baked solo show Dancing With Rage won't make the highlights.
Delayed almost a year due to Walsh's bout of pneumonia in early 2012, the show allows her to reprise a number of characters she's played on TV, including Dakey Dunn, Miss Eulalia Turpin and Connie Bloor.
She starts off strong, essentially delivering a stand-up routine of barbs about the proposed casino, Conrad Black's new talk show and, of course, Rob Ford. Here, Walsh's distinctive plucky, no-nonsense East Coast-inflected delivery is at its best, and her merciless digs at Peter Mansbridge's sex life, the Canadian Senate and Hugo Chavez had the hall in stitches.
Problems arise when the show's thin plot - about Marg's search for the long-lost child she gave up for adoption in 1967 - finally lurches into motion. It takes too long to come into focus, and should be established much earlier. Recurring bits where Walsh reads aloud from a large storybook about Marg's depressing childhood feel endless and impede the pace; director Andy Jones has her just sit there, with nothing else going on.
Reliance on pre-recorded video - including a ho-hum mock music video about "older ladies" and a "greatest hits" montage of Marg's princess warrior alter ego's best confrontations with politicians - only reinforces the feeling (true or not) that Walsh's best work has been on screen.
For diehard Marg fans only.