The Making-Box launches new comedy theatre downtown

The Making-Box launches new comedy theatre downtown


Local company celebrates ditching the script

This past weekend The Making-Box comedy company hosted a grand opening for its new theatre in the former Joint Café space on Cork Street.

The opening showcased what The Making-Box does best: bring big names to town, introduce them to local talent, and see what happens.

 

In this case, the big name in question was The Making-Box’s biggest yet and a Canadian comedy icon: Kevin McDonald of Kids in the Hall. McDonald joined performers from The Making-Box for a Friday night performance, a sketch comedy workshop on Saturday, and a showcase of said sketch comedy on Saturday night. All three events sold out.

Friday’s performance presented one narrative, partly scripted and partly improvised, performed by McDonald and members of The Making Box’s in-house troupe, the Brigade.

In the scripted first half, fastidious corporate drone Mr. String (played by Making-Box lifer Josh Anderson-Coats) finally has a VP promotion in his sights; however, first he must prove his vice-presidential fortitude to manic CEO Mr. Archie (McDonald himself) and stone-faced assistant Karen (Brigade standout Kate Ethier) by winning back his former office fling Rhonda (Making-Box education director Hayley Kellett).

In the improvised second half, based on audience suggestions, Rhonda goes to Broadway, Mr. String sings heavy metal to pad his resume, Karen deals with an inopportune pregnancy, and Mr. Archie gets stuffed (literally).

Committing to such an experimental format is not without its dangers.

In the scripted portion of the show, the performers, eyes glued to their lines, struggled to give McDonald’s hyperbolic conceptual comedy the energy it needed. The biggest laughs came not from the agile wordplay, but from flubbed lines or the rare moments when performers managed to look up from their scripts. The unscripted portion, meanwhile, felt confident and prepared, and the talented improvisers delivered a rousing finale.

Would The Making-Box’s grand opening have been better served by a more traditional stand-up or improv show? Maybe. But it is fitting and encouraging that The Making-Box and Kevin McDonald would opt for an experiment over the tried and true. There is a time for resting on laurels, but, for The Making-Box, that time is not yet at hand.

Three genre-bending Kids in the Hall sketches:

“The Monkeys”

A jaded businessman holds his whole town hostage to a room full of violent monkeys.

“Love & Sausages”

A tight-buttoned sausage-factory worker dreams of love with his coworker while struggling to appease his sausage-loving dad.

“Drunk Dad Advice”

A boy’s 13th birthday is interrupted by his father insisting on enacting a boozy family tradition.

Photo provided by Stuart Service.

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