Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Tales of Whoa (Fringe)

Exploring sketch with mixed results
by Joel Fishbane

Sketch comedy is par for the course in any Fringe Festival and the quartet of Not Bad Abe aim for the stars with a high concept show that combines traditional sketch with the longform variety. After discovering a board game called Tales of Whoa, two lost souls are sucked into a world where they are forced to participate in sketches if they ever hope to return home.

If this reminds you of the movie Jumanji, then this might be the show for you; and if you’re thinking that Jumanji is a pretty dated reference, then you’re not alone. Still, it’s a fun concept even if it isn’t explored with any great depth – it is, in the end, merely a framing device for a series of sketches that run the gambit from inspired (two women risk spending eternity in an elevator when neither can quite bring themselves to choose a floor) to absurd (a man has a carrot where no man ever wants a carrot to be). 

The four performers – Kyle Scott, Leigh Cameron, Stuart Vaughan and Lara Johnson – are talented and there’s some good ideas hiding in all the goofiness. They’re young and they’re exploring both the genre and their own skills, so whether you enjoy the show will largely depend on your level of patience. Some sketches work and some don’t – and some, like the Jumanji thing and the extended Titanic parody, merely feel like they belong in a sketch show from another time.

Tales of Whoa is at the Toronto Fringe

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