battlestar galactica toronto bad dog

BSG at its Best - BATTLEAWESOME : AWESOMESTAR

There's a kinship among sci-fi nerds that requires a history of wanton affairs with cult programs. Star Trek, Quantum Leap, ST:TNG, Xena, Farscape... I have no shame in admitting to loving each of these TV series, some even passionately. Each affair was one of those unhealthy relationships that became an obsession.

So when it came to Battlestar Galactica, I'm not sure where my resistance came from, but it soon proved futile and just 2 weeks later, I'd blazed through all 4 BSG seasons. So what better way to cap off my new found obsession for FTL drives and frackingly hot skin jobs than to check out BATTLEAWESOME : AWESOMESTAR - Bad Dog Theatre's latest improv sci-fi spoof show.

Kris Siddiqi and Rob Norman, the brains behind the BATTLEAWESOME project, were kind enough to submit to my nerdish grilling earlier this week... luckily, with hilarious results. Much like BSG, Bad Dog's improv show is headed by a mainly Canadian cast, featuring the improv talents of Paul Bates, Christy Bruce, Paul Constable, Lisa Merchant, and Marcel St. Pierre. Unlike BSG, however, is that BATTLEAWESOME lets the audience and the improvised genius of the actors dictate what goes down on the fleet's flagship.

Of course, my first question was how the hell this project came to be. I have heard great reviews from Bad Dog's other sci-fi spoof shows, but BSG seems to have more of a hardcore niche following than say, Star Wars.

So why did Rob and Kris pick the BATTLEAWESOME theme? "We loved the show. We wanted to be on the show. And this was the next best thing. I've joked before about this being one big LARP. Some of the best improvisers in the city ended up congregating together based on our love of BSG alone. It made this show feel like a little sci-fi convention. "

It's a hardcore nerd-off, right down to the improv games Kris told me the cast uses to prep for the night. "Rob has invented the 'Frak Off' - 2 performers are given a situation to perform and they must use as many terms from BSG as possible."

The practice really pays off. BATTLEAWESOME is wrought with hilarious references to the show, even mime that only BSG fans could understand, like in this small clip from Saturday's show:

So how do they bill this as a show for everyone? "Well of course we're out there to feed the addiction of every BSG nerd, but it's very loose in that if you've never even HEARD of Battlestar Galactica then you can come and enjoy the frak outta this version. If you like sci-fi and robots that look like humans, then this is a great show to see. If you enjoy random silliness, disorderly pilots and Paul Constable (Adama) being a grumpy old fart then this is the perfect show to see. "

Who doesn't enjoy a good grumpy fart, particularly in uniform? And as proof of his diverse talents, I was told that in rehearsal Constable likes to take on the character of an ace-pilot whose call sign is 'Fruitloops'. As Rob explained, "Some Cylons are Sixes. Some are Threes. Fruitloop is a Sixty-Nine Cylon model. I keep asking Paul to stop entering scenes, but he always says Hey man, its not me. It's Fruitloops. I can't control him!"

And considering how important sexuality is on BSG, and how far sexual innuendos go in pleasing the audience, I can't blame them for throwing in a lewd joke or two for laughs.

battlestar galactica

But my favourite character, and a favourite among the cast, is BATTLEAWESOME's eerily accurate portrayal of BSG's resident alcoholic, Saul Tigh. "Colonel Tigh is played by Marcel St. Pierre who just happens to be the Artistic Director of the company (Bad Dog)," explained Rob, "But believe me when I say he was not cast based on his connections to the theatre, but rather his is ability to get drunk and say "Fraaaaaaaaaaaaaaak"." And this he does with EXPERT precision.

Tigh is also an awesome drunk on the real BSG, played by Canadian Michael Hogan. (Kris adds, "Best Canadian actor EVER - Eat that Paul Gross! He killed his wife! He's a drunk AND someone plucked his eye out! If that doesn't make you the coolest character on TV I don't know what does.") Can't argue there!

Naturally, Baltar and Tigh are the favourite characters. In this past Saturday's show, the sexy Caprica 6 Cylon selected an unsuspecting Gaius Baltar from the front row of the audience... improvised genius, especially given the context of Gaius' character on the show - he's the epitomy of human frailty and genius all wrapped up into one sex-obsessed messiah.

But of course, the real fun of BATTLEAWESOME is the illustrious improv comedy skills, where during the performance I attended the cast had to work with audience-suggested 'cellphones' and 'toothbrushes' to create a plot on board the AWESOMESTAR. The cast is quite talented, able to work with just about anything thrown their way (although I was asked to please not yell out 'dildo' - it just makes for an awkward scene).

I thought the best part of the show was the sound guy, who kicked off our performance with the haunting 'ding ding ding' of piano notes that signals the BSG nerd-fest is about to start. While dutifully providing funny effects where applicable, he also signaled the end of each scene with the intense BSG tribal-drums-in-space music from the show. Truly BattleAWESOME.

BATTLEAWESOME AWESOMESTAR plays for two more Saturdays, January 24th and 31st, at the Bad Dog Theatre. Tickets are only $10, and you can reserve online here.

Totally frackin' worth it!


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