Long Dark Night (Long Dark Night Productions) 2011 SummerWorks Review

Long Dark Night is a musical spoof of a hard-boiled detective story. It’s full of over-the-top stereotypes hamming it up and groan-worthy puns. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before, and it could use a lot of polish, but I laughed out loud a number of times. (I do have a fondness for terribly punny jokes.)

Noir seems like an odd thing to spoof right now, as the genre is so dated that I suspect many younger audience members may never have seen any original offerings and only recognize the elements via the many other parodies produced over the years. The jokes are cleverly written enough that I suspect Mark Shyzer could make fun of any genre he put his mind too. But there is a certain appeal to noir: the guns, the booze, the women.

There is indeed a femme fatale in the show who is actually named Femme Fatale – with the accent on the E. There is the detective himself, Skip Tracer, a bumbling fool with more taste for booze than for clues. There are two suspicious characters, Frankie DeRodes and Tuesday Mae the Third. But mostly there is Skip’s secretary, and the real brains of the operation, Irene Pffeffener. Irene was played to the hilt by Jessica Moss, who stole the show with her commanding stage presence, her vocal prowess and her hilarious facial expressions and physical gags.

This show has the potential to be a real crowd-pleaser if it had some of its rough edges polished off. The cast seemed to bump into set pieces accidentally almost as often as they did purposefully, and they weren’t all of equivalent strength as stage actors. But it’s a decent silly romp and Mark Shyzer and Jessica Moss are comedians to keep a eye on.


Long Dark Night  plays at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, 16 Ryerson Ave

Friday August 5, 10:30pm
Sunday August 7, 12:30pm
Monday August 8, 8:00pm
Wednesday August 10, 10:30pm
Friday August 12, 5:30pm
Sunday August 14, 5:30pm

– All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.artsboxoffice.ca, by phone at 416.504.7529, in person at at the Arts Box Office (located at Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave., One block North East of Bathurst & Queen W. M-F 12PM-7PM, Weekends 10AM-8PM) (Advance tickets are $15 +HST and $1 service fee)

– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows