The Georgia Straight: Guy MacPherson, July 17,2018
I may not be a born and bred Vancouverite, but I’ve been here since 1993. So how is it I’ve never skied, I’m not a vegetarian, can’t rollerblade, don’t watch hockey, and have nothing against Toronto?
Keeping that in mind, it’s no wonder I had no idea what Vancouver TheatreSports new show was all about. Avocado Toast? Never heard of it.
Apparently, it’s all the rage here. Or at least enough of a rage that most locals will get the reference and immediately understand that the show is a spoof of our fair city.
Like all TheatreSports productions, the overarching theme is just a hook to get you to buy a ticket. It matters not whether you’re familiar with the parody subject, it’s always a highly professional—and funny—performance. Avocado Toast is no exception.
On opening night, concept creator Lauren McGibbon hosted, wearing fleece and carrying an umbrella as she introduced the Vancouverites, featuring Taz VanRassel, Margret Nyfors, Ken Lawson, Ed Witzke, Rae Lynn Carson, and Jullian Kolstee. It was my first time seeing the last three on-stage at the Improv Centre, which drove home just how deep and talented a roster the troupe has down on Granville Island.
The show forced a through-line with a Vancouver angle. Early in the proceedings, two developers (played by VanRassel and Kolstee) interrupted the scenes to say they were going to tear down the theatre to make way for condos if the cast couldn’t make them laugh by 9 o’clock. Not exactly edge-of-your-seat stuff, given how everyone was already laughing, but just another fun goof on Vancouver living.
We also saw a bit about hiking the Grouse Grind set in three different city neighbourhoods, from the pretense and wealth of Yaletown to the quirkiness and edibles of Main Street. The cast even went back in history and showed us a scene, in Shakespearese, of Capt. George Vancouver’s voyage to Canada. They sent up baristas, Science World, lululemon, yoga, and our Hollywood North reputation. (The cast members started a long-form movie of the week by “bragging” about their TV and film credits, such as nonspeaking roles and auditions that went nowhere.) One highlight was a camping scene with Lawson and Witzke playing their guitars to improvised songs from Carson, Nyfors, and VanRassel. No mention of avocado toast was made at all, curiously.
The whole production was topnotch (as usual), with sound improviser Laura Skelton even putting together a soundtrack of Vancouver musicians and bands to play in and out each scene, which really added to the experience.
A Vancouver TheatreSports League production. At the Improv Centre on Granville Island. Continues until August 31