The cast of The Bitter End, reuniting on-stage this weekend.
Happy third birthday to the Montreal Improv Theatre! To celebrate, the little venue that could is holding an Impro-Niversary that begins on Thursday and culminates on Saturday with a proper knees-up. Each night features different teams of performers vying for glory and that perfect moment of connection with both team and audience. Among those performing are local groups Girl Talk, Infernal Compass, The Bitter End, Pillow Fight and Night Bus, as well as special appearances by Toronto’s Bad Dog Repertory Theatre. Bad Dog has been around for over 10 years, and its players are a handpicked who’s who of Canadian improvisers. Aug. 1–3, Montreal Improv Theatre (3697 St-Laurent), $5–$8, showtimes vary
Two shows borne of Dawson’s Professional Theatre Program launch this week. Who will win beyond Thunderdome? Freud or Jung? Tragi-Comedy or Comedy-Tragedy? Raise the Stake’s Lunduntown or Title 66’s The History of the Devil?
Raise the Stakes give us the absurdist, improv-inspired comedy Lunduntown, a remount of Alain Mercieca and Glyn Jones’s play about Canadian ex-pat Charlie, who lives in London. Twenty years into his sojourn, Charlie receives a plea to return home from his Westmount nephew Jordan. Charlie has no desire to go back. Why? Family issues. Hilarity ensues as the relationship between Jordan and Charlie deepens and characters connected with Charlie show their own struggles with assimilation and the concept of home.
Mercieca explains that the play is more than about family, but also about friendship in our global society. “It’s about these friendships we develop with people and then have to leave. How much do we stay in touch with people in this day and age? Are emails enough? If we’re not in the same city, it’s hard to stay in touch otherwise. At what level are we longer in touch?” Lunduntown plays Theatre Ste-Catherine (263 Ste-Catherine E.) July 31–Aug. 3, 8 p.m., $15–$17
Title 66 performs Clive Barker’s edgy analysis of humanity The History of the Devil as part of the Fantasia Festival. This eerie, physical show puts Lucifer on trial as he tries to get back into Paradise by using Shaggy’s favorite phrase, “It wasn’t me.” The sinister, shadow side of man reveals itself through witnesses that range from Medieval Russian peasants to 18th-century prizefighter Daniel Mendoza. The production promises to be artful, with masks, sparse sets and colour (not red) used to communicate layers of meaning.
In particular, the show deconstructs concepts of perfection and explores gray areas of human nature. Title 66 co-founder Logan Williams explains, “The basic question the show asks is does the devil deserve Paradise? But, even more, do we deserve it? The devil is a scapegoat for humanity. He does this, but we’re perfect. As the play goes along, you see the devil become more and more human than the humans. You relate to the devil more than you hope.” The History of the Devil, Aug. 1–3 as part of the Fantasia Festival at Place des Arts Cinquième Salle, (175 Ste-Catherine W.), 8 p.m., $24 ■