by Lynn on April 3, 2013

in The Passionate Playgoer

l-r Amitai Marmorstein, Celine Stubel

At Theatre Passe Muraille, Mainspace. Written by Jacob Richmond. Directed by Jacob Richmond and Britt Small. Designed by Janis Ward. Lighting by Alyksandra Ackerman. Sound by Jacob Richmond and Britt Small. Starring Amitai Marmorstein and Celine Stubel.

Produced by Atomic Vaudeville and presented by Theatre Passe Muraille until April 13.

Legoland is the prequel to Atomic Vaudeville’s hugely successful award winning play, Ride the Cyclone. With that one we get the quirky stories of six teenagers from Uranium, Saskatchewan, who all sang in the school choir and all died when the amusement ride they were riding, the Cyclone, malfunctioned.

That show established the company’s off the wall imagination, vaudeville style and quirky storytelling. At the end of my 2011 review for Ride the Cyclone I said that I wanted to see their next show, soon.

I got my wish with Legoland, a prequel to Ride the Cyclone which is playing at Theatre Passe Muraille until April 13.

The same quirky storytelling is at play, with its devotion to vaudeville techniques to tell the story. Penny Lamb must do lots of community work as penance for selling drugs, attacking her favourite rock and roll singer with his favourite coffee drink, and generally wrecking havoc. Penny is 16. She is aided in her moment of crime by her serious, oddly dressed 13 year old brother, Ezra. Ezra wears a grey cape, grey shorts, white tights and Mary Jane shoes of sorts. He wears big horned rimmed glasses and his hair has dramatic swoops and curls.

Penny and Ezra live on a commune with their hippy parents not far from the deserted town of Uranium, Saskatchewan. It’s a rocky growing up for both siblings. They are so odd and ostracised by their mean classmates. Penny is naturally exuberant and stream of consciousness speaking. Ezra is an intellectual who spouts Nietzsche. Legoland is what their parents call the world outside their own small one. Writer Jacob Richmond means that to be the rigid, conforming society that is outside the Lamb family’s hippy all embracing world.

Where ever the siblings go, adventures follow them, whether they are lying to the border guard about their dead parents (they aren’t dead); or traveling by bus across the United States first to get the rock star’s favourite coffee in Seattle then to Florida to give it to him, but with startling results.

After Ride the Cyclone is Legoland worth the wait? Sadly, no. Writer Jacob Richmond is relentless in his determination to be quirky and off the wall funny, be it his writing or co-direction. The result is generally leaden with the whole effort weighted down with the—well, effort. Humour is the result of the juxtaposition of the incongruous—the formally dressed man slipping on a banana peel is hilarious, unless you are the formally dressed guy. But when you can see the jokes coming a mile off it becomes tiresome and endless, even at an hour running time.

The performances are intriguing and even compelling. As Penny, Celine Stubel is eager, impish and charmingly devilish. Penny is as energetic as her brother Ezra is sedentary. As Ezra, Amitai Marmorstein is stony-faced and monotoned in his seriousness. That mixed with the occasional manic movement is mildly amusing. But too often both are inaudible either because of speaking too fast, screaming, or mumbling.

And while directors Richmond and Britt Small do fill the space with the antics of both characters, it does tend to be invention for invention’s sake. I am very glad I saw Ride the Cyclone first to see how a show can work when it is full of quirkiness. Legoland doesn’t cut it.

Legoland plays at Theatre Passe Muraille until April 13

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