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Thursday Theatre Review: Theatresports at the Bad Dog Theatre

Ah, September. That magical time of year when the leaves begin to turn, children return to school, and the Toronto theatre community goes underground to recover from summer festival burnout.

This poses a few problems for a theatre reviewer. Namely, with the big theatres awash in mediocrity and the indies gearing up for their seasons, there ain't a lot of theatre to review. But, like the old saying goes, a problem is just an opportunity in disguise. In this case, the opportunity to go a bit further afield and see what else TO has to offer theatre-wise. Happily, this quest delivered me to the Bad Dog Theatre Saturday night, just in time for their weekly installment of Theatresports.

For the uninitiated (read: those who didn't just look this up on Wikipedia like I did), theatresports melds the excitement of spectator sports with the high hilarity of improv theatre. Teams of improvisers square off in short scenes, and the crowd gets to vote for their favourite. One of the more popular improv formats, theatresports promises a night of comedy, audience interaction, and the raw excitement of cutthroat competition.

And the Bad Dog Theatre doesn't disappoint. These folks are funny. Not just witty-like-your-buddy-Frank funny, but holy-crap-how-did-you-come-up-with-that funny. And the show isn't a passive thing you sit back and watch. The audience is constantly asked for suggestions, and the actors take these crowd offerings and run with them. At one point, I was even dragged onstage to participate in one of the games. I totally sucked, but the talented cast was able to make something out it anyway. To wit: if you don't like being put on the spot, Theatresports may not be the show for you.

My show buddy for the night was, funnily enough, a pretty experienced improviser. And she thoroughly enjoyed the show as well. In fact, everyone seemed to get into the spirit. Kudos to Jan Caruana, our director and host for the evening, for getting us into the improv groove.

The cast is also excellent. Coming up with a solid hour of funny isn't easy. They don't always hit the mark, but overall the performers pull off an impressively creative and generally funny show. In particular, the energy and imagination of Kevin Matviw and Alastair Forbes made for some awesome moments.

At the end of the night, one team--It's Raining Sven--stood triumphant. But when you get quality comedy for $10, it's really everybody who wins. So in this season of theatrical drought, get thee to the Bad Dog Theatre.

Theatresports runs at the Bad Dog Theatre (138 Danforth Ave.) every Saturday at 8PM.

Photo courtesy of Bad Dog Theatre.

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