Becoming Banksy, a new play about the enigmatic graffiti artist, makes its debut in Toronto
The joint is jumping at Toronto’s east-end studio meets arts space, Redwood Theatre, current home base of off-Broadway bound Becoming Banksy, a cheeky comedy written by NY-based writing duo, Cory Terry and Elan Wolf Farbiarz. Becoming Banksy chronicles the downward spiral of artist Will Banks (Anurag Choudhury) as he deals with accusations of being the mystery man himself while on vacation in Toronto.
The music is blaring and the enormous hardwood studio at Redwood Theatre is surrounded by row upon row of folding chairs, setting the stage for what feels more like an arena show than an indie theatre performance.
There are only 3 members in the cast and about 15 characters in the show, most of whom are played by 2 out of the 3 cast members.
Daniel Pagett handles his many character changes like a champ as does Caitlin Driscoll. He goes from Russian DJ to Mario brother while she goes from obnoxious millennial to uptight news anchor and they both do it in mere seconds while keeping each character authentic and distinct. It was really cool to see!
Anurag Choudhury sticks to just one role, playing Will Banks, the slightly pompous, always proper London artist who swallows his fame whole when he’s accused of being Banksy. Choudhury brings supreme vigour to the role filling the rather large performance space with ease.
The show employs comedic devices like cartoonish sound effects, musical motifs, slow-mos and even a fake moustache or two. Becoming Banksy is rich with fun and gags but that’s where my enthusiasm for the piece started to slow down.
The script, though extremely clever and filled to the brim with sarcastic wit and rollicking physical gags, unfortunately also features somewhat one-sided characters and a paper-thin plot line.
The big “climax” moment in the show caused more of an eye roll in me than a jaw drop and when Banksy’s true identity was revealed by the local news reporter (Caitlin Driscoll), I wasn’t surprised nor was I shocked at the level they were probably hoping I would be. I couldn’t really find it me to care or even believe that it was true. I just thought, “Really? That’s it?”
I did, however; enjoy the final “food-for-thought” moment at the end. That was just awesome.
It’s tough because there are so many things that I thought went right with this show, from the highly commendable performances by the cast to the snappy dialogue in the script. Unfortunately though, the story just didn’t inspire me to “Banksy-level” heights.
- Becoming Banksy is playing at the Redwood Theatre (1300 Gerrard St. E.) until Oct 14 2018.
- Shows run Sept 29 – Oct 14, 2018. Wednesday – Saturday at 8:00pm with 2:00pm matinees on Saturday and Sunday.
- Tickets are 51.08 and are available online or in person at the box office before the show.
- This venue is accessible.
Photo of Anurag Choudhury, Daniel Pagett and Caitlin Driscoll provided by the company.