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Tuna Surprise
Presented by Tiny Tuna THEATRE

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Reviewed: 2005-07-30 13:41:04
Rated: 5 out of 10 [2.5 Stars]
By: John Chase (Director@winnipegonstage.com)

Rarely does a show pose to me a serious conundrum of what to say about it. Except for those few that are truly mediocre, one can usually label a show as "good" or "bad" very easily. Somehow, Tiny Tuna THEATRE managed to achieve both with "Tuna Surprise", hence my straight-down-the-middle 2.5 star review. Some of it's good, some of it's bad, and some of it is so bad that it's good. What?

Well I don't fully understand that myself! But, being a sketch comedy show might explain it, as the best things about sketch comedy are that everyone will probably laugh at something, and if you don't like what's onstage, you'll be getting something new in just a few minutes. Though I only found one moment in the show to be gut-splittingly funny (admittedly because it catered perfectly to my warped sense of humour), the cast of three visually-appealing actresses (Michelle Field, Sandi Armstrong, and Lindsey Hodgson) did have me laughing regularly. I feel Ms Armstrong deserves a specific mention, as I found her performance and characters to be a step above those of the other two.

However, I would be curious to know how much, if any, formal theatre training each has received in their years of being on stage, as I could very often see great ideas that weren't manifesting themselves solidly within their performances. A running theme was that they were spontaneously adjusting their show for the audience, adding or making changes to scenes that weren't planned. I still don't know if it was sincere or just part of the act, but to me it looked so artificial that it ruined the effect. I was also disappointed in the end of the show, as it concluded in a haphazard way after what I thought was their least funny sketch.

The areas in which I give the actresses much credit are their enthusiasm and raw creativity. All three stayed at a high level of performing energy throughout the show, and never waned in the honest effort to entertain their audience. One can see some very creative ideas behind the various scenes that they wrote: many poke fun at pop culture in irregular ways, others manage to be so outrageously stupid that they're actually funny, and one thinks so far out of the box as to have an actress being interviewed by a tape of herself when she was ten years old. They also engaged in some notable elements of audience participation, and even gave away a couple of prizes during the performance I was at.

In some ways, I would compare this production to an uncut diamond: you can see and greatly appreciate the potential within it, even though right now, it doesn't look like much in comparison to what it could. The show would benefit immensely if a strong outside eye for theatre and comedy were to come in to "cut and polish" it. That, or copious amounts of nudity in the name of art. Just kidding. But if you found that funny, so might you "Tuna Surprise".

John Chase
July 30, 2005

(Note: This production is part of the 2005 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. Visit - http://www.winnipegfringe.com/ )

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