What do you get if you mix a dash of Charlie Chaplin, a soupçon of Jacques Lecoq, a healthy helping of Abbot and Costello, and to top it all off, a dollop of Marcel Marceau? The answer is clear: the Dora Award Winning play, SPENT, now playing from February 12-22nd at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.
SPENT examines the 2008 financial crisis in the wake of Lehman Brothers folding. The play’s only two actors, Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza summon their superior physical theatre skills to transform into myriad characters, each with their own unique view on the economic situation. Everyone from a BBC anchor to a Shanghai correspondent to a New York broker comes to life under Jain’s and Paolozza’s deft touch. Merging a series of charming vignettes with seamless character changes, SPENT analyzes this pivotal world event in a manner that’s both probative and witty.
SPENT is a rollicking ride of a play, drawing out belly laughs and general hilarity, in spite of its rather serious subject matter—the financial collapse of the western economy. So how can one laugh at the prospect of two of SPENT’s characters, Bay Street brokers, jumping from the top of a building, broke and in despair? What makes us laugh knowingly at the ersatz sound-bite: “Wall street privatizes all the gain and socializes all the losses”?
Fact is, these are no mere Bay Street brokers. They are more hapless waifs, negotiating their way through a world where all the rules have changed. The play begins with a vignette featuring these two down-and-out executives; one enters, wandering aimlessly on to the stage, brandishing a sign with a simple request: ‘Hire Me’. He is joined by the other, whose sign reads “I have an MBA, will work for 6,ØØØ,ØØØ CDN. With this scene, Jain and Paolzza set the tone for this wildly successful show with facial gestures, slapstick comedy and a chameleon-like ability to change shape, accent, appearance.
As a result, it’s not the despair of the financial crisis, but a liberating sense of movement, voice and face that wins the day. This is physical theatre at its most energetic, at its funniest, at the apex of wicked satire. Adam Paolozza and Ravi Jain make two ‘down-and-outers’ loveable and laughable. Their energy makes their homage to Chaplin in the final scene a perfect way to end this roaringly funny play.
Spent by Soulpepper
Details: Performance includes Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza.
Produced by: Theatre Smith-Gilmour, Why Not Theatre and Theatre RUN in association with the Young Centre for the Performing Arts
Limited run: February 12-22. For tickets call the Young Centre Box Office: 416-866-8666. Run time is approximately 70 mins with no intermisson.