By James Karas
As the whole world knows, Jacob Two-Two is 2+2+2 years old, he has two eyes, two hands, two feet etc. and he says everything twice.
Young People’s Theatre has produced the wonderful musical, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang 2+2+2+2 times to the delight of young and not so young alike. This year is the, well, let’s economize, 2 x 20 anniversary of the publication of Mordecai Richler’s book and I am allowed to say it again this is a wonderful musical based on the novel.
L-R: Matthew G. Brown, David G. Black and Damien Atkins. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.
I attended opening night of the current revival with my Associate Reviewer, a highly precocious and perceptive seven-year old (“I’m going to be eight in March!”) to make sure I did not miss any of the nuances of the production.
The play has new music and lyrics by Britta and Anika Johnson that are tuneful and enjoyable. The production is fast-paced and starts with some amusing scenes with Jacob’s family and I get an early review.
Associate Reviewer: This is funny.
Jacob is sent to the grocery store to buy some tomatoes and he is arrested for offending an adult. He is represented by lawyer Louie Loser (Darrin Baker) in front of Judge Rough (Saccha Dennis) and an even rougher jury. He is found guilty and thrown in prison. The justice system a drubbing with all the bad stereotypes of the incompetent lawyer, the bad judge and the abusive treatment of Jacob but my Associate did not seem to mind. She just found Louie Loser funny.
L-R: Jeigh Madjus, Drew Davis, Sarah Gibbons and Ensemble. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.
Jacob goes through some hair-raising experiences as he meets many very colourful and some scary characters. Master Fish (Matthew G. Brown) and Mistress Fowl (Kira Guloien), Artie Octopus (Jacob McInnis) and of course, the terrifying Hooded Fang (Damien Atkins). This is frightening and my Associate leaned over.
Associate Reviewer: “Is this a real story?”
Note; My Associate Reviewer saw Hanna’s Suitcase and I told her that it is “a real story” and Hana’s fate clearly made an impression on her. I assured her that it is not a real story and that Jacob was dreaming the whole thing.
David Gregory Black is a lively, funny and just superb Jacob. (He alternates in the role with Drew Davis.) The rest of the cast take on a couple of roles or play in the ensemble. It is a fast-moving acting and singing ensemble.
Co-directors Allen MacInnis and Jen Shuber with Set designer Dana Osborne and Costume Designer provide some 2 x 35 minutes of fast-paced, colourful, funny, scary and delightful entertainment. The last words belong to my Associate:
“When are we coming back?”
Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler opened on November 19, 2015 and will play until January 3, 2016 at the Young People’s Theatre, 165 Front Street East, Toronto, Ontario. 416 862-2222. www.youngpeoplestheatre.ca