Provocateur (Bad Dog Theatre Company)


007-themed improv and sketch take Toronto’s Comedy Bar stage in Provocateur

Provocateur (playing at the Comedy Bar) knows how to have fun. Set in the Spy Universe — James Bond, Sydney Bristow and Sterling Archer walk into a premise — and high on camp, this mostly-improvised-partially-scripted show explores life after a pandemic which has wiped out North America. British Intelligence is aggressively pursuing quarantines and a cure; the Russian agents have secrets to keep; and aside from hitting a few pre-written plot points, nobody really knows how the story ends.

The team of improvisers may need a little more practice working together in order to knock out all of the kinks, but by and large it works: as opening nights go, this one was solid. From the moment we hear M‘s plummy accent, we know we’re in for something good. (On a side note, the accent work in this show was consistently some of the best I’ve heard on stage, especially from a company so young, with extra credit for improvisation.)

The cast is a massive ensemble of considerable pedigree — and while I want to linger on a few favourites, I have no idea who played what. You can get a full cast list from Bad Dog’s Provocateur website.

I will, however, linger on director Kirsten Rasmussen, who clearly understands the tone and style this premise needed. You can’t be too serious about spy camp, but without some vestige of a plot, this show would just be an hour solid of “octopussy” puns. Framing the show in this way — improvised segments, some requiring audience suggestions, interspersed with a small number of hit-this-mark plot points — not only ensures the evening maintains momentum, but also allows Bad Dog and the Comedy Bar to serialize: Provocateur will return next week, and rather than hitting the reset button, begins where it left off.

What mysteries lurk in the isolated Moldov(i)a(n) castle? What is the significance of the Estonian choir festival? Can M-16 recover from the loss of their best field asset? Will Agent Golightly ever get his goddamn club soda? Tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel.


  • Provocateur plays through December 18th at the Comedy Bar (945 Bloor West, near Ossington station.)
  • Show plays Wednesdays at 8:00.
  • Tickets are $12, $10 for students.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-551-6540) or in-person at the Comedy Bar box office.

Photograph of (L -> R) Liz Johnston, Alice Moran, Dan Jeanotte, Gavin Williams, and Carmine Lucarelli provided by the company.