photo by corbin smith
Every Sunday night, the small back room of Clinton’s Tavern on Bloor Street transforms into a magical place where anything might happen. However, the audience is assured immediately that Ghost Jail Theatre is “the comedy show that won’t make fun of you for coming.” And it’s true; there is an incredible ease to the performances that permeates the entire space and dissolves the worry one often has in the pit of her stomach during an improvised show that things might get scary, awkward, or dead.
Ghost Jail’s mandate is to “present quality, professional work in an inclusive environment that fosters and develops new talent while bringing together members of the community at large.” The theatre company is made up of six core company members, Ian Rowe (Artistic Director), Caitlin Howden (Artistic Director), Tim Daugulis, Michal Grajewski, Alana Johnston, Kayla Lorette and Fraz Wiest. At the beginning of each show, a piece of text is selected from the audience and a random line is read aloud. From this line, a theme is chosen which will connect the ensuing scenes and monologues together. There are six improvisers in the show. On either side of the stage is a notebook on a chair. Scenes are improvised in the centre, and monologues are written on the chairs while the scenes are being performed. They are then read aloud when the perfect moment becomes apparent. The scenes all connect to one another, stories and characters spring to life, punch lines become recurring jokes, everything feeds into everything, and the audience watches in awe as an hour of improvised shenanigans all circle around and fit perfectly together like pieces of a hysterical, marvelous, jigsaw puzzle.
The Ghost Jail Season opened last Monday with performances by Ian Rowe, Caitlin Howden, Tim Daugulis, Alana Johnston, Fraz Wiest, and special guests Ron Pederson and Naomi Snieckus. The scenes and monologues are consistently laugh-out-loud funny, which is extremely rare for an improvised comedy show. Their timing is impeccable, and scenes never run too long or turn stagnant. The beauty of having all six actors on stage almost all of the time, is that you are also able to watch the “offstage” actors’ reactions to the comedy that is being done “onstage”. It sometimes feels like watching the behind the scenes blooper reel for a very funny televised show. You also never know when an actor will fall into a scene unexpectedly.
Ghost Jail Theatre is undoubtedly funnier than anything on television- especially anything on Sunday nights at 7:30pm. It is cheap. It is inspiring. It is fun. There are drinks and the cast members hang around after the show to hobnob. You really can’t go wrong. So, you should come. You will laugh until you hyperventilate. Seriously.
Ghost Jail’s all-new show “Ghost Jail’s Doing It” begins Sunday October 13th, 2008 at 7:30 (sharp). They welcome special guests Ron Pederson, Naomi Snieckus and Kirsten Rasmussen.
Ghost Jail Theatre has a new show every Sunday night at Clinton’s Tavern. 693 Bloor Street. Doors open at 7:00. Tickets are $6.00 or $5.00 for members. For more information visit http://www.ghostjail.com/. See you there!