by Lynn on September 23, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Grand Canyon Theatre, 2 Osler and Dupont, Toronto, Ont.

Created and performed by Landon Doak (music and lyrics) and Matthew Finlan (book)

Directed by Fiona Sauder

Set by Remington North

Lighting by Steve Vargo

Sound, arrangements and production by Lyon Smith

Matt and Landon are best friends who live, smoke weed and sing their songs in a basement apartment in Toronto. A solar flare hits the earth and shatters everything. Matt and Landon feel they must travel back in time to warn their younger selves of the impending disaster in order to prevent it.

Landon Doak and Matthew Finlan first presented Life in a Box at the Toronto Fringe. Then the folks at the-inventive-as-hell-sharp-as-a-tack-mad-as-a-hatter Bad Hats Theatre came calling wanting to collaborate with Doak and Finlan.

 The set by Remington North is a television set (the outline of which is etched in the curtain at the back. The frantic, manic, compelling action happens ‘inside’ the TV set. The result is Episodes 1, 2 and 3 of Life in a Box, complete with commercials for various products, some of which can make one high.

Fiona Sauder is the artistic director of Bad Hats Theatre and the director of Life in a Box. She has Landon Doak and Matthew Finlan (playing characters named Landon and Matt respectively) climb the walls inside the TV, hang down backwards from the top of the inside of the TV, crawl along narrow paths as they go back in time, and deal with a little glitch about coming back to the present. The pace is heart-racing. Doak and Finlan play off each other beautifully and never let the pace lag. Their musicianship is terrific. The lyrics are smart, clever and will have your eyes popping at their invention. The music goes from pop, to rap to hip-hop without a lag and without a wrong step.

The story-telling is fast, furious, irreverent and always funny. Your cheeks will hurt laughing, all of them. Almost all the antics, writing, performances direction and ideas seem like they are the result of focused, intense smoking of pot. If that is the case, I want what they’re smoking.

Bad Hats Theatre is a group of theatre makers who are the real deal. Every part of this show is carefully thought out for the maximum humourous effect. The humour both visual and ‘intellectual’ is whip-smart-inventive. Even the snacks that are sold in the lobby are geared towards the idea of watching a wild television show—boxes of small packages of M & M’s, chocolate stuff other assorted candies you would eat while high or watching TV or both. And they had a raffle too. The prize was a rolled joint. You gotta love those mad Bad Hats. I can’t recommend Life in a Box highly enough.

Bad Hats Theatre Presents:

Began: Sept. 18, 2019.

Closes: Sept. 28, 2019.

Running Time: 90 minutes.

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