matt bois and paul constable
Bosco & Jones is a new Canadian musical written by Racheal and Brett McCaig, the same team who wrote the wildly entertaining Nursery School Musical, which made its debut in the 2008 Toronto Fringe Festival and I saw when it was produced at the Berkeley Street Theatre last Fall. Bosco & Jones plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival.
This show has a wonderful premise. Bosco and Jones, a ventriloquist and his human dummy, were one of the greatest comedy duos of the 1960s and 70s, but after a high profile falling out and fifteen years of estrangement, they are being reunited for a fundraiser to save the old theatre where their careers first took flight from being demolished. This conceit sets a delightful premise for song and dance numbers, hilarious comedy shticks and a hilarious rollicking good time.
It is difficult for me to truly assess this incarnation of Bosco & Jones because the show has been condensed to suit its 60 minute time slot, but from what I have seen, I think this musical has all the potential to eventually match the success of its predecessors, but seems still well within the workshop and development stage. The songs, with music by Scott White, are all highly functional, but they have not yet found their own unique sounds and styles nor their edge and polish.
I am not sure if this is addressed in the full length production, but considering that the musical is based around two comedians, with a myriad of well-established routines and sketches up their sleeves, the writers skirt the issue of showing too much of this dynamic in the musical; which seems like such a pity. Even when Bosco and Jones do regurgitate their act, the construction of the jokes and even the popular culture references don’t seem to entirely correspond with the type of theatre and shtick these two men have created and the era that would have informed their comedy. I would have liked to see more allusions to Edgar Bergen or the Marx Brothers and Charlie Chaplin and the reappropriation of some classic Vaudeville gags. I think these references would have brought out the tensions surrounding the inherent political incorrectness of the time without converting the laughs into awkwardness.
Paul Constable is wonderful as Bosco, both bumbling and endearing, slightly shady and yet ultimately filled with good intentions. Matt Bois is incredible as Jones, filled with surprising subtly, irresistible charm and quick comic timing. Together, Constable and Bois have a terrific dynamic, which allows their characters to spar perfectly off one another, which builds the tension and the emotional arc of the story. Bois also has an especially lovely singing voice.
I am interested to watch the development of this show because I think the writing team has a plethora of hilarious possibilities to mine and expound.
Bosco & Jones plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst Street) at the following times:
Sun, July 4 8:45 PM
Wed, July 7 Noon
Thu, July 8 2:15 PM
Fri, July 9 11:00 PM
Sat, July 10 4:00 PM
all tickets $10 at the door or book in advance by calling the fringe hotline at 416.966.1062 or go online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/.