This piece is an outgrowth from a project that premiered at Fresh Meat in 2016, featuring a host of new segments to bring it’s running time up from 20 to just over 50 minutes. Creator/performer Deborah Ring plays a bevy of characters, each of whom possesses a uniquely bent worldview that they present in a TED-style lecture of “Ideas not worth spreading,” complete with a slide show, and inspiring introductions.
The show itself is quick-witted, and Ring’s performance features good character work that leaves the audience laughing and groaning in turns. Much like in a real presentation, the responsiveness of the RF remote to change slides became a bit of an impediment to the flow of the show. Though distracting, these moments seemed built in by design, or at least well-planned for, and often led to comedic moments when whatever character Ring was playing at the time addressed the problem.
The characters each seem to represent a distinctly unique misguided type of human, from the opening White Male Feminist, Ted, through a inexplicably time-travelling randy flapper, to the only character the show claims might actually have an idea worth spreading, the liberated east-coaster Maureen Grady. They are all absurd and funny in their own way, and the sketches have been built to allow Ring to demonstrate her improvisational skill through some exchanges with the audience.
There is a level on which this show succeeds, holding some social absurdisms up for us to laugh at. However, it falls short of its potential for satire when it doesn’t actually exaggerate these traits we harbour in our social interactions to show us their implications. It doesn’t give us any insight by its humour. We already know to laugh at a middle aged white man telling us that he’s a feminist because he compliments women always. If we walk in without already knowing this, then the show doesn’t provide us any way to see why it’s wrong, so it’s not educational or instructive. And if we do already know it, then it is preaching to the choir, so to speak, and it doesn’t provide any fresh insight to our world-view.
The pacing is also very consistent throughout the sketches (Lil’ Ging being a notable exception), which causes the characters and sketches to blur together to some extent. With a bit more variance in the tone and pacing of the characters, this show would carry a bit more punch.
The ideas held by the majority of the characters are certainly not worth spreading, but the meta-ideas of the writer probably are. The problem is that this show doesn’t give itself enough room to breathe new life into these ideas to make them more than fodder for us to laugh at. This show is full of funny sketches, but for me, it didn’t take the jokes to the next level, where they start to matter to the culture as a whole.
Created, Produced, and Performed by Deborah Ring
Directed by Gabbie Lazarovitz
La Nouvelle Scène Studio B
Friday, June 16 9:30pm
Saturday, June 17 5:00pm