Girth Radio Presents…
As I sat in the balcony, waiting for a show to begin at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, I tried to explain to my friend why calling a farce Entrances and Exits is funny.
A farce is just a form of comedy that is often absurd, somewhat physical, and certainly witty. But many farces are also heavily choreographed and rely on a series of entrances and exits that create confusion for the characters, and humour for the audience.
Noises off, for example…as I told my friend, is one of the most famous farcical plays and typically takes place with a set that includes at least six doors and/or windows for characters to move in and out of.
Tonight’s show at hand, Entrances and Exits was set as a living room for the first act, with one door in a corner, and an ambiguous exit on the other side of the stage. A collaboration between The Howland Company and Bad Dog Theatre Company, the show was an improvised farce, assuring that no two plays could be the same.
You could attend every performance across the festival and be met with a completely different show each time, the only constants being the set and the performers.
As in many forms of comedy, the mastery of a farce for actors lies largely in timing. And improvising timing, of course, is a challenge, so I was excited to see how the show would unfold.
The performance I saw took place as the cast prepared for a wedding (a suggestion from the audience), and included a wedding planner, a jealous sister-of-the-bride, her ex-boyfriend, an acrobatic cater-waiter, a groom, his secret twin, a bride and her father played by Colin Mochrie (Whose Line is it Anyway?).
Anybody who has ever been to a wedding can tell you a group like that spells chaos. Or as they say in comedy, opportunity. Throw in the sound of a punch that the audience requested, and you truly have a recipe for laughter.
Entrances and Exits was truly and honestly funny. The cast had clearly worked to build relationships with each other, creating a level of comfort in which they could interact with each other easily, and take everything thrown at them by their fellow improvisers. The play flowed as if it had been scripted, giving credence to the cast’s abilities.
The second act took place in a bedroom, showing the action that was occurring on the other side of the door that characters kept entering and exiting through during the first act. This did present a few minor issues in terms of characters remembering exactly when they’d gone through the door in the first act, but the laughter was sustained, so no love lost.
Overall Entrances and Exits was a success.
It was absurd, somewhat physical, witty and completely improvised. The cast and crew set a huge challenge for themselves and from what I can tell, they crushed it. They meshed together well enough, that they were able to create new theatre at every show, and keep audiences entertained. I can’t speak on how all of the shows went, but that’s the nature of improv!
For more on Entrances and Exits check out the Fringe website.