Theatre review: Occupy Cabaret – Script Tease ’12

Photo by Sharilyn JohnsonThe 2012 Script Tease Project

Occupy Cabaret by Ins Choi

June 3, 2pm – Review by Barbara Goslawski

It was a celebration of the spontaneous and the outrageous. Even the ticket stub goaded the audience. It read, “Warning: Anything is possible.”

This past week, local theatre wunderkind Ins Choi (writer/actor in the Fringe Festival hit Kim’s Convenience, playing at Soulpepper, Toronto) participated in the innovative Script Tease Project 2012, presented and performed by three-time Canadian Comedy Award-winning improv theatre company National Theatre of the World.

The troupe collaborated with some of the country’s finest playwrights (a mix of established and emerging artists that included Sky Gilbert, Michael Healey, John Murrell, Anusree Roy, and Scott Thompson) to present a distinctive blend of improv and theatre. Each playwright would prove a small ‘tease’ of a play idea and the performers would then ‘tease’ it out.

As per instructions, Ins Choi provided a two-page script that was kept secret from the performers until they hit the stage. Occupy Cabaret was an inspired scenario, straight from the news, and peppered with enough dramatic flourish to incite some refreshingly relevant improv. It’s one thing to laugh at quick-thinking comics on stage; it’s another when they’re wielding the double edged sword of satire. Choi’s tease was so funny because it was so true.

Ins ChoiIn two mere pages, he fleshed out the characters enough for the performers to masterfully push some newly established stereotypes and boundaries: the sensitive poet, the rage-filled musician and the moppet-like homeless woman, all involved in the Occupy Movement. The poetic rants that Choi initially provided were enough alone to ignite the engine of this wild ride.

These performers, infinitely talented and inspired as they were, then took off in multiple directions, feeding off the scenario and each other. Talk about thinking on your feet. The twists and turns they took left one breathless. It was as if they could read each other’s minds with lightning speed.

The brilliant part was that they found a way to smooth all the rough edges and tie up the loose ends into a neat side-splitting finale. Much credit goes to all involved, from the playwright himself to the performers. Ins Choi provided the perfect spark to kindle the comic creativity of these consummate professionals. It was unique, hilarious, incisive and gloriously wild. Choi proved once again that he is someone to watch in the theatre scene.

Kim’s Convenience by Ins Choi runs until July 4, 2012 at Soulpepper. Find tickets & info here.