Ladies and GentlemAn
Review by Dave Stewart
I can’t recall the actual wording of the request from The Buzz when I was first asked to review Off the Cuff Comedy Presents: Ladies & GentlemAn. I can, however, tell you what I heard: “How’d you like to review a new sketch comedy show with a hard-to-remember name performed by four recent musical theatre graduates/ triple threats? It’s playing at 11 pm on a work night.”
“Not very much” was my initial response, but The Buzz was persistent, and so I found myself at the 11 pm preview performance of “OtCCP:L&G” at The Guild.
And I liked it.
Performed and co-written by Jacob Durdan, Sarah MacPhee, Kristena McCormack and Kaitlyn Post, four recent grads of the Holland College School of Performing Arts, “OtCCP:L&G” is an hour-long collection of sketches that pokes affable fun at PEI and, refreshingly, at the notion of being a triple threat itself. That the show features performers who are trained in dance, acting and vocal performance strengthens it in almost all regards.
In terms of talent, the four performers are equally and well suited as a professionally-trained ensemble. Each earns his or her share of laughs and appreciation, and all are engaging. During monologues, however, MacPhee and Post truly nail it, almost wholly disappearing as performers to deliver believable and memorably funny characters.
The show itself is well-balanced and entertaining. Despite the fact that, as is par for the sketch comedy course, a couple of sketches (and only a couple) are duds, none wear out their welcome. It’s a solid hour of entertainment.
While the show is an initiative of its performers, the guiding hand behind it is that of Jan Rudd, a veteran of the Island sketch comedy scene with stints in both Annekenstein and The Drill Queens. Rudd is also an instructor at the School of Performing Arts, and acts here as Director and Head Writer. She’s a talented comedy writer who serves the performers well by keeping sketches short, allowing each performer his or her moment as the focus of attention, and in playing to the performers’ strengths. Rudd even lampoons her real life role as instructor to the ensemble in a couple of video segments featured in the show.
If I had a complaint about “OtCCP:L&G”, it’s that it is at times too self-referential. Some sketches require familiarity with The Confederation Centre’s Anne of Green Gables—The Musical, and others are enhanced by a knowledge of the relationship between Rudd and the performers, and of the performers’ recent status as performing arts graduates. A minor point, however.
What may be more damaging to the production is the advertising, publicity and name (of the show? the ensemble?). In my eyes, each misrepresents what you’ll see on stage, and may discourage some from attending. Yet, I hope that won’t happen. “OtCCP:L&G” is worth catching, and it showcases the beginning careers of four members of PEI’s next generation of professional performers.
“OtCCP:L&G” runs Thursdays and Fridays at 11 pm until August 29.