This Play Wins emits a special kind of humour.
You may have to mentally prepare yourself for the theatrical schizophrenia that director JP Faienza and his team of screwballs (Will Ellis, Roberto Ercoli, Sarah Harwood, and Mallory Morgan) have in store, because the show is absolutely ridiculous. And there will be farting. Lots of farting.
This type of comedy is not for everyone. If you are above dippy satire and bathroom jokes you should probably skip this one.
The show is a preposterous semi-parody of Aristophanes’ The Clouds – an ancient Greek comedy (written in 419 BCE) that criticizes the intellectual mindset of the Athenian people.
At the beginning of This Play Wins, Faienza warns the audience that the show is very, very loosely based on Aristophanes’ work. That’s because in the ensuing 75 minutes, everything and its mother will be mashed into the show: melodramatic kitchen sink drama, satirized theatre school games, a broomstick’s debut as Zeus, an improvised “massage” conga line involving the entire audience – should I go on?
Each audience member is asked to vote on which scenes they like and which scenes they want to axe for the following performance. The audience also votes on whether they would like to bring back scenes that were omitted from the previous night. This always gets a “yes” vote, because who isn’t a little curious?
Faienza takes a satirical, twisted and almost-Brechtian approach to the show, testing the equipment in front of us, remaining on the stage for the entire duration of the show, directing the actors as they go, forgetting which scenes come next, and giving a poorly-devised closing speech outlining his need for audience approval.
The actors (Faienza included) demonstrate that they are talented comedic performers, no doubt about it, though the material is, more often than not, questionable at best.
I feel that it is impossible to walk out of this play thinking it was mediocre. You will like it, or you will loathe it. It wasn't for me, but I'd be lying if I said there weren't audience members having a ball.
Presented by The Shaker Secessionists, This Play Wins runs at The Theatre Centre until Aug. 15. For more information, visit www.summerworks.ca.