Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza
Spent is a two-person comedy that promises a lot but delivers very little. It is supposed to be a satire about the 2008 financial crisis and it roams the world for humour and commentary but evokes little more than sheer boredom.
The play was created by Dean Gilmour, Michele Smith, Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza and was originally produced by Theatre Smith-Gilmour, TheatreRUN and Why Not Theatre. For a two-person show with not sets, that seems like a lot of creators and producers. Gilmour and Smith direct and Jain and Paolozza are the two performers.
Jain and Paolozza are chameleon actors who can move around the stage with amazing agility, change accents, speak quickly, dance and role on the floor. All of that talent should produce laughter, excitement, amazement – theatrical entertainment, if you will. It does nothing of the sort.
The script, if you can call it that, has long stretches of non-verbal comedy. The two actors seem to be having too much fun, however, to pay attention to the audience. They simply over-do it. The problem starts in the opening scene. Two men in suits carry signs asking for work. One of them is an MBA the other is a Harvard graduate. They try to get the attention of passers-by and they keep doing it long after they cease being amusing. The directors and the actors should have a better sense of that.
They do a dance routine of sorts to “Imagine All the People” and we have to hear the whole song. By the end, we are bored and have no idea why they are doing it. The text, what little there is of it, has no wit, not even a decent joke, and it is simply overshadowed by self-indulgent over-acting.
The 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers was a long time ago and the creators offer nothing new or particularly interesting about it. In the central skit, the two men are shown on a ledge of an office tower on Bay Street. They jump/fall off the wall and miraculously survive. They go on at some length about that miracle but again fail to amuse or entertain. Some of the other skits became repetitive and simply boring. What a waste of talent.
In fairness, I should mention that Spent won a Dora Award and was apparently a hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe._________
Spent by Dean Gilmour, Michele Smith, Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza opened on February 12 and will continue until February 22, 2013 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane, Distillery Historic District, Toronto, Ontario. www.soulpepper.ca 416 866-8666.