The local quintet of Shannon Guile, Jacqueline Loewen, Garth Merkeley, Ryan Miller and Jane Testar unfailing produces wildly entertaining sketch comedy that gives the genre a good name.
It’s not just the uniformly adroit performances — beautifully timed, with a physicality that can be graceful or goofy as required — but the bizarre, brilliant territory this troupe’s fevered collective brain explores. A fight over a restaurant cheque turns into a jazz dance. A couple sings a sultry R&B duet about planned parenting. A failed Siren tries to hone her feminine wiles. A couple of snippy office workers engage in a Passive-Aggressive Battle Royale while commentators do play-by-play.
Recalling Testar’s daffy performance as a doomed dodo bird in a previous HTA show can still make this reviewer laugh out loud. This year, it’s Miller’s time to stretch his wings, as the rubber-faced redhead plays a bird of paradise desperate to attract a mate who’s just not that into him. His expression as he struts and preens delivers $8 worth of laughs alone.
Hands Down isn’t HTA’s best fringe show to date — a couple of ideas are funnier in theory than in execution — but it’s hands down the best sketch comedy in Winnipeg. Somebody give these folks a TV show.
— Jill Wilson
From the official Fringe Festival program:
Smart, edgy physical sketch comedy.
***** - Randall King, Winnipeg Free Press
"The performances across the board are virtually pitch-perfect, and the troupe's sense of sketch comedy structure and pacing is extremely strong…it's almost depressing how good they are so young." - Dean Jenkinson, CBC Radio
"If Second City ever decided to set up shop in Winnipeg, it could hire Hot Thespian Action…" - Uptown Magazine
Warnings: Subject Matter, Language,
RECOMMENDED: Mature Audience
Venue#4 Onstage at the Playhouse 180 Market Ave (Entrance on John Hirsch Pl)
Discount Tickets: $7 for Students
Under 13 not admitted.