Atomic Vaudeville's Legoland is clever as they come
The siblings Lamb are like cousins from out of town who don't understand the ways of the world. As the only two characters in Legoland, we're treated to the defining moments of their short lives in a frenetic mash-up of tales. The whole thing feels as if it could be a play acted out in the family's living room on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
Jacob Richmond's inventive comedy is at times irreverent and in other moments deeply dark. Like the older, intellectual black sheep of the family, however, it looks as if it's destined to be overshadowed by its fresher, more attractive younger sibling, Ride the Cyclone.
Penny Lamb (Celine Stubel) and her younger brother Ezra (Amitai Marmorstein) deliver a presentation about their crimes to fulfill their required community service. After their family's hippie commune in Uranium City, Saskatchewan is toppled by the RCMP for illegally growing marijuana, the kids take to the road in pursuit of meeting Penny's favourite pop icon Johnny Moon, who has recently turned hardcore rapper. They sell a boatload of Ritalin to finance their trip and let's just say the meeting with the one time pop star doesn't go so well.
Richmond's script has been injected with overt wit and cleverness. Both characters use performance to overcome challenges in "Legoland" (defined by their parents as everything outside of their commune). The stand out elements in the script are Ezra's cynicism, which punctuates each scene as a needle pops a balloon, and Penny's unbridled passion for JK47 that seems as odds with her intellect (that said, she is still 15).
The vaudevillian storytelling features the use of puppets and music, elements that add to the DIY nature of the Lamb exhibition. Directors Richmond and Britt Small have married well the personality traits of the characters, which oscillate between dry and over-the-top humour, to the presentation style.
At times, however, the rah-rah nature of the show is a little too off-the-wall, approaching "look how clever we are" territory. The show likely functions best in a more intimate space or as part of a festival.
The two actors are precise in their performances. Stubel drives things forward in long bursts of energy, while Marmorstein cuts through with a well timed observation. The characters' unshakable affection for one another is subtle, yet important.
Among the highlights are Marmorstein's Jeffrey Dahmer puppet sequence and when he steps out of Ezra's dandy role to describe why they are traveling cross-country. The most poignant moment of the show comes courtesy of Stubel who delivers a poetic vision of love: "it's the closest you come to being another person."
As Ezra so astutely identifies, the closest allies of irony are "wit, sincerity, and intelligence." All four qualities abound in Atomic Vaudeville's Legoland.
Legoland, written by Jacob Richmond and directed by Richmond and Britt Small, runs at Theatre Passe Muraille until April 13.
Photo by Barbara Pedrick
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