Crisis on St. Creskins is a bizarre site specific theatrical experience at Toronto’s historic Campbell House Museum
If you’re looking for some absurd, ridiculous, just plain funny theatre this holiday season, look no further than Henri Fabergé’s Crisis on St. Creskins. Presented by the cast of Fabergé’s Feint of Hart, the show is billed as ‘a punk rock soap opera’, though I’m not sure it can be defined quite so simply.
It moves through the rooms of the historic Campbell House Museum, and is almost certainly unlike anything else you’ll see this year. There is an accordion, some “ultra-modern” art, a holiday being celebrated, and a man dying on the second floor – and that’s just what you’ll encounter before the show even begins.
I was slightly concerned about what I had gotten myself into during the moments before the show; everything felt very chaotic and disorganized when my friend Pete and I entered the house. Thankfully, though, the chaos quickly turned to comedy and the disorganization to delightful festive fun as the show started and the crisis began to unfold.
The show moves through several rooms in the house, and we learn that the Art College (Hart College) the building houses is also a temporary home to the boisterous boys of the Boyce Naval Academy. A rivalry exists, a pageant is planned, hilarity ensues. Though the audience is split up throughout the majority of the performance, rest assured that you will see and hear everything, including a St. Creskins Day song that will likely remain stuck in your head until the next fictional holiday you celebrate rolls around.
The audience is moved around in pre-assigned groupings (stickers for everyone!) and learns about the history and happenings of the Creskins and the characters from each school. The story of the holiday itself is silly and a wee bit crude, but the performances are hysterical. This is a group of people who have done this type of thing before, and they have crafted something strange and unusual that somehow totally works.
Each performer is solid, which is a very good thing, as a show like this really wouldn’t work without both the talent and improv instincts they all possess. Pete and I both agreed we felt the stand-out performers were Roger Bainbridge as caped guide Roget, and Kayla Lorette as the heavily-sideburned king (queen?) of hilarious one-liners, General Lorette. I also particularly enjoyed the vocal stylings of Alex Tindal and Henri Fabergé, though their voices were sometimes a little bit drowned out by the aforementioned accordion and a drum.
This type of show works best with an attentive audience, as it relies heavily on laughter, applause, snickers and the occasional audible groan. Luckily in this case audience members can’t help but laugh, applaud, snicker and yes, audibly groan, because it’s just shake-your-head, laugh-till-you-cry, so-dumb-it’s-funny material. There is some incredibly clever dialogue about the role of a Director vs. that of a Stage Manager that this Stage Manager won’t soon forget, and a rotating cast of guest performers who will likely also be super talented and/or hilarious, if the ones I saw were any indication.
The show could use more organization off the top – perhaps a guest performer or two could provide some more structured pre-show entertainment? It also needs a bit of tightening in certain scenes, as it was fairly clear when the (however loosely) scripted dialogue had ended and the improv had really begun. Overall, however, the crisis is one worth involving yourself in. Leave the kids at home – mature subject matter abounds – and prepare yourself for some festive fun as you witness the absurdity that is St. Creskins Day.
- Crisis on St. Creskins is playing until December 15th at Campbell House Museum (160 Queen Street West)
- Shows run Saturday – Monday at 7:00PM & 9:30PM, with a 2:00PM matinee on Sunday the 14th
- Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online or through the Campbell House Box Office by phone at 416-597-0227, Ext. 2
- Please note that the show contains mature subject matter and is suggested for patrons aged 12 and up
Photo provided by the Company