Tuesday, May 19, 2015


As the famous anarchist, Abby Hoffman once pointed out, in North America, when someone asks you what you do, what they mean is, "What do you do for money?"

Work:  it's the place most of us spend a third of of our lives, sometimes more. A job can be a dream come true, or soul-crushing drudgery.  For most of us, it is a bit of both.

In their eighth production, the Dora-award winning comedy team of Heather Annis, Amy Lee, and Byron Laviolette take on work: cleverly skewering both corporate culture, and self-employment in a very funny show.

After a string of unhappy work experiences, (one ending with a restraining order for Morro)  Toronto's beloved clown sisters decide to abandon wage-slavery, and begin their own company: JMI (Jasp and Morro Industries).  The logo is an Rorschach-like fruit core.  They have slick promo videos in the lobby. They have  furniture: well, one desk.  They have stationary.  They have a business consultant, and HR person on call.  All they need is a high-quality product - and some money to make it.

The show makes a meal of the tropes of office culture, as well as the financial difficulties of trying to start a company.

No matter where you work, or what you do, you will find yourself howling in recognition at the range of ridiculous workplace situations on offer.

More than anything, work is about relationships: and it is the fractious, affectionate, competitive, and utterly adorable relationship between the neurotic, controlling, buttoned-up Jasp and the messy, chaotic, and endlessly inventive Morro that gives the play its heart.

Laviolette does one of the best directing jobs I've seen all season, making particularly effective, and strategic use of both music, and blackouts. Special credit must go to the design team of Joanna Yu (set), David DeGrow (lighting), and Lyon Smith (sound), as well as the spot-on technicians who run the show with aplomb. The environment they've created supports the performers perfectly.

The audience is charmingly inveigled into functioning as the various planners, consultants, and would-be backers needed to run JMI. Resistance is futile.  You want to work at JMI.  Trust me, it's more fun than anyplace you're working now.

MORRO and JASP: 9-5  is a high-quality product created by a committed, collaborative, and talented team of artists, and theatre technicians.  Take some favourite colleagues, and go after work.

The Factory Theatre and U.N.I.T. Productions present MORROW AND JASP: 9-5, continuing at the Factory Studio Theatre until May 31st.  Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00 PM,  with  Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. Ticket prices range from $35-45 with discounts for students/seniors/arts workers and a Pay What You Can matinee. www.factorytheatre.ca for tickets.

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