People Suck is a new song cycle by Peter Cavell and Megan Phillips that explores the theme that human beings are, inherently, annoying, antagonizing and highly skilled at the art of pissing one another off. It is a hilariously cynical musical perspective on human interactions in the contemporary world.
From guys who flake on dates, to all the office drama, people who use God as an excuse to be assholes, the gross and weird strangers on the TTC and the perfect people with perfect lives who have horseshoes inserted up their butts, Phillips and Cavell have a cheeky and cathartic musical number rant to address it all. The songs are really strong, especially in the construction of their overall arc and the ability to get Cavell and Phillips’ message out, while remaining true to the very melodic musical theatre genre. Some of the songs, like Connor Thompson’s Grammar Nazi rant, and “Where the Hell Is Darwin When You Need Him?” led by Ashley Comeau are lighthearted and silly, while others tackle more complex issues, such as the idea that being an asshole can be advantageous to success, and also that trying to control people’s behaviour, to starve off the sucky things people do, can, if pushed to the limit, also cause Fascism.
The cast, Thompson, Comeau, Phillips and Allison Price and Arthur Wright, have great comedic sensibility, great panache and entirely serviceable voices. Kerry Griffin directs the show very clearly in the style of Second City shows, which serves the material well. The worlds of Toronto musical theatre and comedy (and Fringe) have merged together before to achieve greatness, with The Drowsy Chaperone, and I think People Suck has the potential to make an even stronger crossover into the world of musical theatre. If there were to be a remount of this production, it may be interesting to bring in a director from the musical theatre community and for Cavell and Phillips to work on making their music a little less pastiche of already existent musical theatre songs, and to find their own distinctive sound.
In all People Suck is fun and joyful and,despite it’s title, it doesn’t actually shatter any faith in humanity.
TWISI FRINGE RATING: