Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Spent

Adam Paolozza & Ravi Jain (Photo by: Elisa Gilmour)

Accountability Must Go Both Ways
Spent finds humour in the unlikeliest of places
by Stuart Munro

The Economic Crisis of the late 2000s may not seem like the best place to start when crafting a new comedy, but Theatre Smith-Gilmour, Why Not Theatre, and TheatreRUN have opted to do just that with their Dora Award-winning play Spent, currently on stage at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

Off the top, we meet two Bay St. financial types begging for work, but having no luck.

Written by co-directors Dean Gilmour and Michele Smith, and performers Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza, Spent professes to be a “commentary on the greed that caused the recent financial crisis,” and it certainly starts out that way. Off the top, we meet two Bay St. financial types begging for work, but having no luck. This near silent introduction is followed by a barrage of news reports form around the world, and then a scene taken from one of the many hearings following the public bailout of some of the top American financial institutions. Things begin to take a bizarre turn after this as our two Bay St. guys take a sojourn through heaven . . . and then through Hell. 

If the commentary gets a little muddled at this point, the opening night audience – myself included – certainly didn’t seem to mind. In the hands of any two less capable performers, Spent could easily become a question of “Why on earth am I here?” But with Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza, the audience is kept well and truly engaged for the play’s 70 minutes. Their speed is intense, their coordination is near flawless, and all 20 of their various characters are distinct and fully realized. 

If one or two of the segments run a little long, you never really find yourself minding. I could’ve watched Jain and Paolozza all night. In fact, this is probably my only complaint: Spent is too short! A little more of the news reports and the recreations of the hearings could add just enough context to make the more fanciful elements that much more of a welcome break. Nonetheless, Spent makes for one hell of a fun evening.

Spent runs to February 22

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