Theatre has a long and worthy tradition of droll, subversive social satire. From Moliere to Michael Healey there have been many excellent playwrights whose work takes gleeful delight in tipping sacred cows: politicians, fads, fallacies, and social conventions.
I love political and social satire, but sadly, I don't see much of it on the stages of regular theatres. Of late, productions on offer dealing with the current state of the world tend to be both very very serious, and bum-numbingly tedious.
When comedies are mounted, they veer to the fluffy, unchallenging sort: long on laughs, and short on substance. Every summer, old-school farces and Norm Foster plays crop up like dandelions on stock stages and rep houses across the country.
It was, therefore, delightfully refreshing to visit Second City last Tuesday night for the opening of the intelligent, shrewdly observed, and very funny COME WHAT MAYHEM. The impressively talented team of Roger Bainbridge, Kyle Dooley, Lindsay Mullan, Ann Pornel, Brandon Hackett and Becky Johnson have collectively created a two-act sketch show that adroitly takes on everything from shape-wear to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The breadth of topics and the cleverness and invention with which the myriad subjects are handled is a marvel. One of my favourite moments is a game show (with some audience involvement) that explores the contestants' knowledge of current events. It seems most of us know a lot more about entertainment news than we do about world affairs. Are we willfully ignoring the relentless assault of bad news from around the globe, or are we just plain dumb? MAYHEM offers a drawer full of similarly sharp knives, tossed with precision and flair.
The company has wonderful stage chemistry. They took amazing risks with each other, and with the up-to-the-minute material they have so brilliantly devised. Director Carly Heffernan has ensured the show is both fast-paced and well-shaped.
Since 1959, Second City has presented and produced some of the finest comedy writers and performers of that generation. The current crew is certainly a bumper crop.
Go check out COME WHAT MAYHEM. Not only will you experience a laugh filled, thrilling night of high-stakes sketch comedy; you'll be able to say you saw these terrific, young performers live, up close, and personal as they ascended to comedy stardom.
COME WHAT MAYHEM continues at the Second City Mainstage in Toronto at 51 Mercer Street from Tuesday to Sunday. For further information or to reserve tickets: http://www.secondcity.com or call (416) 343-0011