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Fireside Chatter

Review by Sean McQuaid 

Performed by
Sarah Brown, Jill Chandler, Patti Larsen, Kirstin Lund, Doris MacPhee, Nancy McLure, Caron Prins and Monica Rafuse (full disclosure: this reviewer’s sister — hey, it’s a small island); plus the godmother of PEI improv, Laurie Murphy, was a spur-of-the-moment special guest on June 8, a nifty surprise treat. 

The Story
What story? It’s improvised! PEI’s all–gal improv comedy troupe Side Hustle are making it up as they go along, mining instant laughs from audience suggestions and their own fevered brains. 

The Performance
Each uniquely funny, the eight ladies of Side Hustle combine into a formidably multi-talented comedy octopus whose tentacles grow stronger by the day. Veteran improvisers McLure and Larsen assembled this troupe, and it’s a tribute to their tutelage that some of the junior Hustlers can match their mentors by now. 

Everybody has inspired or hilarious moments over the course of the show, but highlights include the fascinating MacPhee’s creepy intensity; local comedy treasure McLure’s larger-than-life histrionics; fine singer Rafuse’s clever knack for improvised songs; and the ample gifts of Brown, whose comic timing, expressive face, strong voice and imaginative flair elevate every scene she’s in, especially when paired with the similarly quick-witted Rafuse. 

Best Thing
As their show’s title indicates, Side Hustle offers a mix of short improv games/sketches and longer improvised stories, producing a somewhat richer, meatier variety of material than typical improv productions.  

Shortcoming
The Charlottetown Firefighters Club is an oft- problematic venue in terms of lighting, sight lines, temperature and background noise (rendering quieter Hustlers such as Lund sub-audible by times), though the venue is improving in some of these respects. 

Final Thoughts
Side Hustle’s summer run is clever, funny, affordably priced comedy, well worth a trip to the fire hall. 

—Upcoming shows on July 20, August 17, and September 14 at the Charlottetown Fire Hall. Tickets available online or at the door. 

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