BUBBA & SEVEN AND THE LOST CASSETTE, written and performed by Craig Dean and Shaun Fowler-Purdy, directed by Dan Bell. Presented by Breadcrumb Trail at the Glen Morris. July 13 at 12:30 pm, July 14 at 9:30 pm, July 15 at 5 pm. Rating: NNNBubba (Craig Dean) and Seven (Shaun Fowler-Purdy) are two slackers seeking a lost tape by the rock group Triumph. Retracing their steps, they flash back a decade -- same apartment, longer hair -- to relive a couple of days.
A funny valentine about young adulthood, the show's also filled with warmth when we see the duo try to impress a girl with sacrifice and hard work.
With plenty of nostalgic surprises for those in their 20s and 30s, this is an unexpected pleasure. Bubba and Seven are like Wayne and Garth, except more socially awkward. Play on, dudes. GS
Up in smoke
*THE REAL YEAR 2000, scenario by Peter Reitzel, with Paul Bethel, Michael Chipman, Christopher Cummings, Dennis Frey, Randall Lanthier, Caitriona Murphy, Christian Potenza, Reitzel, Julie Reitzel and Genevieve Steele. Presented by Canadia dell'Arte at east steps of Central Tech (725 Bathurst). July 13 and 15 at 8 pm, July 14 at 7:30 pm, July 16 at 8:30 pm. Rating: NNNN
The ever-reliable Canadia dell'Arte look to the future and find it full of servants' trickery, ingenuous romance and dope. The Real Year 2000 follows the commedia tradition -- comic improv, rapid-fire comebacks and silly plot twists -- but adds a mechanized servant and turns Pantalone, the conventional figure who blocks the young lovers, into a pot dealer.
It's all silly and lots of fun, with ensemble work that lifts the script to a crowd-pleasing high. Easy to like a show that invokes the spirit of Cheech and Chong. JK
Walk in the park
PEOPLE PARK, by Brock Simpson and John Mitchell, additional material by Lisa Lambert, with Jonathan Crombie, Lisa Brooke, Doug Morency, Lambert, Mitchell, Simpson and Scott Anderson. Presented by Brock & John at St. Alban's Square (Howland and Barton). July 13 and 14 at 6 pm, July 15 at noon and 4 pm, July 16 at 7 pm. Rating: NNNBrock Simpson and John Mitchell's People Park hits on all the embarrassing cliches of the religious-themed counterculture musicals of the 60s and 70s.
Backed by Simpson's acoustic guitar, the show has some clever novelty songs and an ironic quotes-around-everything feel to the dialogue. Lisa Brooke's tough chick, Lisa Lambert's flower-waving single mom and Doug Morency's bad-guy industrialist rocker add life to the show.
But at half an hour, things are over before they've begun, and it's never clear why the show's being performed at all. GS
A VERY DIFFERENT NIGHT, written and performed by Chris Gibbs and Peter Mielniczek. Presented by Hoopal at the Robert Gill. July 15 at 9:30 pm, July 16 at 2 pm. Rating: NNN
Chris Gibbs and Peter Mielniczek's comedy act provides a pleasant enough diversion from more serious fare at the festival. The British pair simultaneously play against and embrace the conventions of clown, ventriloquism and the low-budget two-person show. The result is silly, irresistible fun. GS
A good Weeks
SLUT, written and directed by Brenda McFarlane, with Heidi Weeks Brown. Presented by Far Fetched Productions at the Robert Gill. July 13 at 11 pm, July 15 at 12:30 pm, July 16 at 6:30 pm. Rating: NNN
Few performances equal Heidi Weeks Brown's in Slut, Brenda McFarlane's clever one-hander about a woman who's arrested for prostitution because she likes to sleep around.
From her finger-twitching opening moments to her more vulnerable confessions near the end, Brown creates a universe of always believable and sympathetic characters.
A little untidy near the beginning, director McFarlane's script wraps up nicely at the end, with an important message about women and sexuality that's almost upstaged by her leading lady. GS
RUN, by Victoria Goring, directed by Kelly Fanson, with Goring, Caroline Aked, Steve Alguire, Alyssa Clark, Lesley Dowey, Goring, John Healy, Darlene Spencer and Derek Murchie. Presented by Urban Spine in Whitney Quad, U of T (85 St. George). July 13-15 at 8 pm, July 16 at 7:30 pm. Rating: NNN
Kelly Fanson's clever staging beats out Victoria Goring's text in Run. The script involves a group of quasi-terrorists who invade an upper-class garden party and, in order to get the guests to confront inner demons, force them to run a mock marathon. The action becomes more improbable and chaotic as it goes along, but the outdoor setting and the energy required of the cast give it forward drive.
There's good work from a number of the performers, including Lesley Dowey as a spoiled trophy wife and Caroline Aked as an under-medicated socialite prone to spinning fantasies. JK
Sisters in solace
SEX AND SENSIBILITY, written and performed by Sarah Quick and Letitia Thornton. Presented by SINBAD Theatre at the Factory Studio Cafe. July 13 at 9 pm, July 14 at 3 pm, July 15 and 16 at 6 pm. Rating: NNN
There's humour, insight but not enough punch in Sex And Sensibility, a two-hander by visiting British actors Sarah Quick and Letitia Thornton. With a nod to Jane Austen, they play a pair of sisters who move from London to Manchester and have to deal not only with the bad weather but also with a dearth of worthwhile men in their lives. Quick is the more sexual Mariah, Thornton the careful, tentative Elinor, and they both go through a number of life changes before settling down with the seemingly right men.
The cleverness of some of the lines resonates nicely, but the show could use a good directorial goosing. Played at a low energy level, it lacks dramatic drive.