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Theatre students produce their own cabaret on consumerism

Joosy satire this week and next at Hurley's

by Sylvain-Jacques


Joe Spicer and Paul Lemelin ham it up at Hurley's Pub, where the Theatre Department's latest production is being staged.

With its heavy use of slapstick and drag, the Concordia Theatre Department's latest production is pure camp. Real Joose Flavour: A Cabaret is also fresh and funny. It opened at an unusual venue -- Hurley's Irish Pub on lower Crescent St. -- last Tuesday.

"From the moment we started planning this show, we knew it shouldn't be played in a traditional theatre space," said guest director Robert Ross Parker, a 1996 Theatre graduate. "Cabarets have typically been performed in bars, and we wanted an intimate atmosphere where people could sip a drink and interact with the actors, not just sit up straight like in a theatre."

The cabaret, which takes place on the pub's second floor, features some 20 comedy skits and musical bits written by the cast. Each pokes fun at excessive consumerism, which explains its title, Real Joose Flavour, a reference to cheesy advertising slogans. Many of the skits are politically charged and question our values.

"If people aren't upset or moved by this show, then we're doing something wrong," said Graidhne Lelieveld-Amiro. She plays several roles, including one in which she rants against the wretched way animals are treated before being served up for human consumption.

The cast, three women and five men, have opportunities to cross-dress, which Parker encouraged as an effective vehicle for satire. "Sexual ambiguity and androgyny are current themes in advertising," he said, "and drag has always been a [staple] of cabaret."

Jacob Richmond sings a witty bit about his love of the CN Tower dressed in a shimmering silver sequined dress, feather boa and
cascading black wig. He revelled playing in drag. "It's fun," he said, chuckling. "It's opened a whole new world to me."

Lelieveld-Amiro enjoyed playing a man, complete with bulging jock-strap. "I think playing in drag is a bigger concern for men," she said. "For women, it's no big deal."

Since Joose is a variety show, Parker said audiences are sure to enjoy some skits more than others. One standout segment is when Joe Spicer (who is great at accents) and Lesley Faulkner display excellent chemistry in a skit about an American couple's visit to Montreal's many McDonald's restaurants. Another excellent sketch is an ensemble piece that takes a sardonic look at our TV culture, in which student Gage Pierre plays the papa of all preachers.

Parker said that having his "smart, funny and hugely talented" students write their own material brought out the best of their talent. "Too often, students are required to play roles that are way beyond them," he said. "Allowing them to perform their own work gives greater immediacy to the material, which is sure to have a greater impact on the audience."

Real Joose Flavour continues at Hurley's Irish Pub, 1225 Crescent St., November 19 at 7 and 9 p.m. and Nov. 24, 25 and 26 at 8 p.m.
Call 848-4742 for tickets and more information.

Copyright 1998 Concordia's Thursday Report.