July 27th

Good bye Montreal! Merci!

We had an amazing run. Here is the latest review. Enjoy!


The Mirror
Mirror Theatre


Still screwy

Second City Theatricals’ Reverie: Simply
is like a live-action cartoon

Second City Theatricals


Chicago-based company Second City Theatricals—a branch of the storied theatre that launched so many Canadian comedians (and Saturday Night Live members)—exists to tour the work of their diverse performers. Partnering with the amorphous Just for Laughs festival, they’ve brought the production Reverie: Simply Unspeakable to town as a sort of high-level showcase of physical comedy.

Co-created by the cast and director Dexter Bullard, the assembled group of actor-clowns works insanely hard for the laughs, mixing solo and duo sketches with ensemble work to spotlight their own niche in the world of physical comedy.

The range of styles on display from these industrial-strength mimes was a sight to behold: suggestive of a live-action cartoon.

Six bored people dressed in business grey are seated around a conference table. Slack-jawed, fingers drumming, slouching in identical office chairs, they all dream of where they’d rather be. As the light shifts focus, a story takes off from one or another performer’s “reverie”; a kind of mad graffiti of motion and expression that explodes into being.

Lauren Dowden is the rapidly deflating blow-up doll to pervy Dean Evans, who, gasping for air, blows into her toe to keep her going.

Emmanuelle Delpech-Ramey is a stripper who peels off her clothes, removes her teeth, then takes out an eyeball before getting even more graphic.

Laura Grey is at one point a Charlie Chaplin tramp, picking out a woman from the audience for a gender-bending romance. Switching gears, she becomes an awkward girl at the prom, peering out at the crowd with a miserable hangdog face.

An air-guitar band shifts from Motörhead metal to polka to Gregorian chant in the space of five seconds.

Former MADtv regular Frank Caeti is a (very) overgrown baby whose first steps—then spins, break-dances and does an elaborate dance routine culminating in a handstand—are missed by his parents as they fuss with a video camera.

All the while, the seventh member of the company, musical director Trey Stone, adds live music and a whistling and beeping array of perfectly timed sound effects.

None of which really conveys the subtlety of performances and the level at which this company works. Bullard controls the overall shape of the story, directing the unruly cast with impressive dexterity, giving performers space to let a routine go to absurd lengths before snapping it back to the dull office.

Something unexpected also happens: in the frequent moments throughout the show without music, every creaking seat in the audience, every groan from the cast, or anyone in the audience with an unusual laugh gets ridiculously magnified. The cast react quickly, making it part of the event.

That’s the difference with a stage show—and it reminds you how alive, adaptive and organic a piece of theatre can be.

(1200 BLEURY)


Montreal Just for Laughs comedy festival review: ReveriE

  The six members of Chicago’s Second City troupe are testing their non-verbal comedy Reverie show on Montreal’s bilingual audiences.  

Speechless comedy – nice concept for a festival better known for stand-up.

Speechless, but not soundless. With recorded and synthesized effects from an onstage keyboardist (musical director Trey Stone), six members of Chicago’s Second City mime, dance, mimic and gibberish their way through 75 minutes of interlocking sketches in their new show, Reverie, in Montreal as part of the Just for Laughs comedy festival.

What you hear are snippets of waltzes, disco, hiphop, tango and other music, every conceivable sound effect from heartbeats to machine gun fire.

What you see are three men and three women manipulating six filing cabinets and office chairs on casters, and using a digital video camera to shoot themselves and their props and project them on a screen at centre stage.

When the actors do vocalize, it’s to quack like ducks, pretend to hold an endless note in an operatic aria, or scream “Cheri, j’ovule!” into the phone to kick off a sketch on fertility.

It’s all very simple, all very clever, all very frenetic. Impeccably timed, often childlike flights of the imagination are what director Dexter Bullard describes in the program notes as “the only way we can defeat our fears – worldwide.” In any case, this is a start.

The setting is a corporate office, in which each of the six staffers breaks off one by one into a fantasy life. One grooves to a dance tune, another turns into a banshee and runs circles around her colleagues, another has a date with a blow-up sex doll.

The sketches – culled from the Chicago-based troupe’s wide repertoire – blend into one another, like when the red lights a pair of dancers swing in a nightclub become direction lights for aircraft on a tarmac; the controllers get so carried away playing them, they inadvertently guide the planes into a horrific collision.

Another time, the troupe is a congregation in church, where one dozes off while the others do funny things with the sacramental wine and wafers (no Stephen Harper pocketing one, though, a missed opportunity to get a knowing laugh from a Canadian audience).

Other times, the troupe is an air band that can’t settle on a style (country, heavy metal or Buddhist orchestra), they’re paired as contestants on some Esperanto-sounding TV game show, they try to make love while hearing the cat cough up hairballs, they’re parents fiddling with the video camera while their newborn does cartwheels behind their back.

Sometimes the sketches go on too long, like one set in a fancy restaurant, where a couple on a blind date sip fine wine while, at another table, a lone glutton stuffs himself so much he has a heart attack. Other sketches hit the funny bone right on, like the striptease artist who mimes taking off everything, right down to her dentures, prosthetic hand and Tampax.

There are even – just like in street theatre – a couple of moments of audience participation, like when a Charlie Chaplin character invites someone on stage, tries to seduce her and is disappointed to find she has a wedding ring already.

Reverie is making its world debut in Montreal to test its non-verbal language on a bilingual audience, before going on the road internationally. Judging by the standing ovation at the Tuesday night, opener, the formula spells success in any language.


Reverie – starring Frank Caeti, Emmanuelle Delpech-Ramey, Lauren Dowden, Dean Evans, Laura Grey and Anthony Irons – continues through July 26 at the Gésù - Centre de créativité, 1200 Bleury. Tickets are $46.85 and are available at hahaha.com 514-845-232 or 1-888-244-3155. Or go to montrealgazette.com/justforlaughs2009, the Gazette's one-stop destination for all things Just for Laughs: pre-fest podcast, a call to join the Best jokes team, photos, previews, event listings and more.



© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette




<i>Rêverie</i> : le pari de l\'imagination

Rêverie, de la troupe The Second City, fait appel à l'intelligence des spectateurs, mais il y a tout de même des moments plus légers comme lors de ce strip-tease-tout-habillé poussé à l'extrême, auquel se prête énergiquement Emmanuelle Delpech-Ramey, la Française de la troupe.

Photo: Robert Skinner, La Presse


Alain de Repentigny
La Presse

Ils sont six, trois hommes et trois femmes tout ce qu'il y a de plus ordinaires, à s'emmerder visiblement autour de la table d'une salle de conférence. Ils ne disent mot, mais se lancent de drôles de regards. Chaque fois que l'un d'eux a une idée, un flash, il le réprime aussitôt et rentre dans le rang. Dès le départ, le public de la petite salle du Gesù est déstabilisé, comme s'il avait l'impression d'être voyeur. On entend quelques rires, d'abord timides, mais qui deviendront plus spontanés au fil de la soirée.

Bienvenue à Rêverie, fruit de la première collaboration entre la compagnie The Second City de Chicago et Juste pour rire. Un spectacle hors normes, sans paroles - à l'exception de rares dialogues en langage inventé -, dans lequel six personnages s'évadent de leur petite vie de bureau plutôt drabe pour laisser libre cours à leurs fantasmes les plus fous.

Ce n'est pas de l'humour à s'en taper les cuisses - quoique mercredi, une spectatrice a ri sans arrêt. Il faut même consentir un certain effort de concentration pour suivre les multiples personnages dans leurs escapades pendant les 80 minutes que dure le spectacle. D'autant plus que les six comédiens-danseurs-mimes doivent tout suggérer avec un minimum d'accessoires à leur disposition: des bureaux et des chaises, quelques bouts de papier, un casque de motard et un grand écran, dont on ne peut pas dire qu'ils abusent.

Belle dose d'énergie

Ce que Rêverie met en valeur, c'est l'imagination débordante de cette troupe qui peut aussi bien exécuter un ballet sur chaises à roulettes, avec des pointes s'il vous plaît, ou simuler une poursuite policière en plein coeur de la ville; leur énergie aussi, qui permet par exemple à Frank Caeti, un monsieur bien en chair, d'incarner un bébé en couche qui multipliera les acrobaties et les culbutes.

Il y a dans Rêverie des moments plus légers, parfois proches du slapstick, et de gros clins d'oeil qui laissent aux spectateurs le temps de souffler. Dont un strip-tease-tout-habillé poussé à l'extrême, auquel se prête énergiquement Emmanuelle Delpech-Ramey, la Française de la troupe. Ou encore le numéro du client de restaurant - hilarant Frank Caeti - qui s'empiffre à en crever, rappelant au passage l'énorme Mr Creosote des Monty Python. Sans oublier un vieux truc qui marche à tout coup: solliciter la participation d'une spectatrice allumée qui interagira habilement avec le personnage de Charlot campé par Laura Grey, sur l'air de Happy Together des Turtles.

Certains trouveront ce spectacle décousu, le thème du rêve et du fantasme étant un prétexte tout trouvé pour faire s'imbriquer l'un dans l'autre des tableaux sans lien évident. Les six comédiens ne s'en privent pas, eux qui nous entraînent à leur suite à la messe, à la guerre, au salon de massage ou dans le studio d'un jeu-questionnaire télévisé.

Mais au final, on apprécie l'audace de Second City qui, tel un équilibriste, prend des risques en misant sur l'intelligence et l'imagination du spectateur.


Rêverie, The Second City, du 17 au 19 juillet et du 21 au 26 juillet au Gesù.




Comedy crosses borders in this unique collaboration between the world famous The Second City and Just for Laughs. Reverie is a hilarious comedy revue unburdened by language. Featuring an athletic ensemble of comic improvisers and sketch performers, Reverie uses inventive physical comedy to find laughter in what it means to be a human being. The Second City has launched the careers of many a comedy superstar – Mike Myers, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Gilda Rader, Steve Carell – and countless others. Additionally, Second City gave birth to “SCTV,” one of the most cherished television comedy series of all time and has won over millions of audience members with acclaimed theatrical productions that have toured all over the world and have played in such prestigious venues as The Steppenwolf Theatre, The Kennedy Center and Vienna’s English Theatre. The Second City creates hilarious, intelligent comedy and has established itself as the premier source of the comedy world’s best and brightest: Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Martin Short, Gilda Rader, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Catherine O’Hara and countless others got their start on Second City stages in Toronto and Chicago.