“Double Duo Extravaganza”, the final production of the Cape Breton Stage Company’s summer season, is a rambunctious caprice: strongly and physically played, energetically directed, and pungently written—a great late summer evening out at the theatre.
The quartet of players also collaborated on the script which helps each of them fully commit to the zaniness.
Two competing pairs of buskers find themselves claiming the same performance/rehearsal space. The artier of the teams are Rainbow Exclamation Point (Sarah-Kate MacKinnon) and Bartholomew The Great (Cyrus Orkish): she’s a trust fund baby who keeps finding new ways to alienate what little audience she has, and he’s stuck in his own moody adolescence pounding out angry dark love dirges to his own personal brand of nihilism.
The more “audience friendly” pair are the pink-haired, tutu toting Lady Kitty Galore (Mary-Jean Doyle) and the ferociously optimistic Thunder Sparkle (Bhreagh MacNeil): Lady Kitty tells conceptual vampire jokes which make a run for the border of being funny without ever getting their passport stamped, and Thunder Sparkle is a not so bendy contortionist who sidelines with bird imitations (which are hilarious but just not the way her character intends them to be).
That’s the premise; to say more would to spoil the fun of the “plot”. And for one thing, the character names themselves are worth the price of admission. Also the shameless, indeed, proud product placement for the wares of the Cape Breton Fudge Company is another endearing part of the fun.
The script excels in little character bits and pointed banter that always gets to a delicious insult or punchline sooner rather than later. I gave up trying to remember the best lines of banter since there were so many of them. The premise is, admittedly, flimsy but if this show ever stopped to take itself seriously it would kill the comedy. That said, it keeps backing up when it should be going forward; there are more than a few set pieces of back story, that, while expertly played and funny on their own, undercuts what few dramatic stakes are in the script.
Mary-Jean Doyle, as Miss Kitty Galore, gave a big bold performance with immense charm. Usually working behind the scenes, her performance in this play proves she has a lot of stage presence and expert comic timing. She gives her character a positivity that effortlessly carries the audience into her corner.
Bhreagh MacNeil (with whom I acted in “Pizza Passion” earlier in Cape Stage’s summer season), as Thunder Sparkle, shows no limits of her onstage talents; along with her dramatic gifts (she played a convincing boy in The Bandshell Players’s “As You Like It” earlier this summer), she now reveals an immense talent for plain old goofy physical comedy. And watch her reactions to Bartholomew’s song. She’s engaged in every scene she’s in.
Cyrus Orkish as Bartholomew also has great stage presence and a likeable confidence for a performer without a lot of stage experience. He has an expressive face. It’s funny watching his character painfully admit to liking anything “normal” and happy. Also he is an excellent musician and the show could have benefited with more his work. (A bonus feature of this show is the too brief pre-show set he and Mike Doyle—give us another song boys.) That said, I found his volume a little low at times and his enunciation could have been a bit clearer (and those things will be quickly repaired, I am sure, with more experience).
Sarah-Kate MacKinnon did double duty as the show’s director and as the irritatingly art struck Rainbow Exclamation Point and gets high marks for both jobs. She captured her character’s self-absorption and lack of humour (and it’s hard work when your character is so earnest). As director, she gave the play zip in pace and character development and cannily used the venue, the Island Arts Café, to good advantage. She even recited, at the end of the show, a lovely spoken word piece, that, while it stepped outside the anything for a laugh mission of the script (and maybe her character), made me want to hear more of this writer’s work.
As per opening nights, there were a few flubbed lines but those are things that rarely survive to the second performance and beyond.
“Double Duo Extravaganza” is playing over two weekends at The Island Arts Café in the Cape Breton Fudge Company and opened Thursday, August 22, with two more performances on Friday, August 23, and Saturday, August 24, at 7 pm. Then the final three shows are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, August 29, 30, and 31, also at 7 pm. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door.