An important part of my childhood was playing Cops and Robbers with my friends outdoors. We used to gather sticks and pretend that they were our side arms and we would chase one another, at the same time negotiating right and wrong. “Precinct: An Improvised Cop Story” reminded me of those moments and made me yearn for them. The joy and fun that this show creates and exudes encapsulates that childlike spirit on the stage better than any other show I have seen at the Fringe.
Precinct is an improvised narrative based on the tropes and general story arc of police procedurals and buddy cop films. It has two acts, both of which begin with a press conference scene. The show stars Dimitri Kyres as Detective John Calgary, the loose cannon badass/fool; Andrew Assaf as Detective Carl Boucher, the emotional, logical centre, and big brother of the two; and Jason Grimmer as Captain Bill Garber, the loud-mouth and hard-driving boss.
The three are also accompanied by five suspects/perpetrators who are all veterans of the Montreal Improv scene, including Fringe favorites James McGee (Look at this Guy, Mark Jumper’s Wonderful Museum), Marc Rowland (Les Bunheads and Friends, Mark Jumper’s Wonderful Museum), DJ Mausner (ATM: The Musical, Camp Wanapoke), Vance Gillis (Everything is Normal, The Kicker), Alex Brown (Camp Wanapoke, The Kicker), as well as Fringe newcomer but narrative improv powerhouse Kyla Margaret (non-fringe credits include Producer of Making It Work and Improvisor for narrative troupe Wild Heart). In the show that I had the privilege of seeing there were also two guest suspects. The production is brought together by director Brent Skagford.
An important thing to note about this show is that, because it is improvised and the cast changes from night to night, each showing will be unique as it will tell a different story from the last. I would thus highly recommend attending multiple performances to see as many of these talented players as you can.
In the viewing I attended, DJ Mausner and Marc Rowland played the perps. Mausner took up the role of the victims’ tougher-than-nails brother Bruce Benson and Rowland became the leader of a group of radical environmental preservationists. All of the actors were successful in the portrayal of their characters and providing them with interesting and convincing back stories that brought them to life.
The performance takes place in Montreal Improv Theatre’s black box venue Espace B – meaning that the set consists predominantly of an empty stage and a black backdrop. The artists do a phenomenal job of describing and building the settings they visit and allowing the audience to create these with their imaginations. They use the Improv technique of scene-painting which occurs when a player will come on the stage and describe a single element of the setting (e.g a hot dog cart is crossing the street). This technique is often used in moments of high intensity such as chases or fight scenes to give the players elements to interact and play with.
Precinct is a non-stop action thrill ride that will have you howling with laughter; you will not leave disappointed. It’s a terrific example of Narrative Improv for those who have never had the pleasure of seeing a complete improvised play; those familiar with the format will be delighted by the excellent execution and depth of the characters. (I had already seen this show at Montreal Improv when it ran during the winter and I wish to congratulate Brent Skagford for directing the players to tighten the format and encouraging the addition of more back story to the main characters in the early part of the show – not forgetting Kyres, Assaf and Grimmer who also applied these directions to their craft to great improvement. They are a trio to keep your eyes on for future Fringes as well). The inclusion of these details aided in the pacing of the production and the formation of a stronger narrative.
This is a must-see Fringe show! It’s getting a ton of #Fringebuzz and the artists themselves having been doing a great job of hyping up the show to great success. (At the exact moment I am writing this review, they have sold out two out of their three previous shows, so if you wish to see this gem you better call and reserve tickets in advance.) Precinct: An Improvised Cop Story is one of your best bets if you’re looking to have fun and be entertained at this year’s festival.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Alex Gauthier
Little Toe Entertainment presents “Precinct: An Improvised Cop Story”
When: June 8 – 18, 2017
Where: Montreal Improv Espace B, 3713 Saint-Laurent, #202
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
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