Montreal! You asked for this! How on earth can we call a guy standing on stage reading cards from a board game to the audience theatre? I don’t even know if even after seeing this show I can answer that question. But, I am definitely going to try, because what 2hoots productions from Australia brings us, is absolutely theatre.
Armed with whistles, a slide show, and a deck of cards from a Jason Donovan quiz game, Jon Bennett had me laughing harder than I have laughed in recent memory.
Who is Jon Bennett? A six-time Just for Laughs Best Comedy Award nominee of our very own Montreal Fringe.
Who is Jason Donovan? Well, he’s a late ‘80’s/early ‘90’s Aussie pop star, but knowing him really doesn’t matter at all when it comes to being successful at his board game.
In the interactive Jon Bennett vs. Jason Donovan, Bennett helps us figure out how to answer some deceptively simple questions from a Jason-themed trivia game by prompting: “imagine you are a 14-year-old girl asking questions to her pop hero who responds while on a lot of coke”. I’d say this is the perfect way to describe most of the experience of being an audience member of this show.
Breaking up the game with some fun anecdotes, phone calls to mom, sing-a-longs, and poem readings, Bennett keeps his audience laughing and engaged (and oftentimes frustrated, in the best of ways). There is no way we can determine what kind of structure or plan Bennett goes into each show with, but I think his ability to keep it alive and fresh is due to his innate comedic talent (and possibly his gorgeous accent.) His self-deprecating humour – which is really Jason-deprecating humour – is infectious; before you know it, you will find yourself hating a celebrity you probably didn’t even know existed.
The slide show was a bit messy, but it didn’t really bother me since the show felt all over the place anyways. I felt there were too many sing-a-longs, but they were clearly working for a few audience members.
Although Bennett told the reviewers in the audience to simply write, “just don’t,” you simply must play this game. The format of playing a board game as audience vs. Jason Donovan was very satisfying for my competitive nature; even if neither team got a point, every answer gave someone or something a point: 3 points for health, 2 points for puns, 1 point for Brian Wilson.
Most of the jokes didn’t need to be written by anyone because they were simply the answers to most of the questions, but the antics that were written and improvised always landed. Bennett’s constant encouragement for the audience to use whistles to stop the action really gave the show a fresh and lively feeling that only theatre can provide. There is something really special about knowing that you are experiencing something that will never be able to be exactly replicated again.
I now know the answer to every question in that damn board game, but I would go back to see Jon Bennett vs. Jason Donovan in an instant just to see where it goes, what kind of answers audience members come up with, and what other stories Bennett has to tell. Bring a friend and go. I promise you will laugh, feel exasperated, and leave with an intense hatred for Jason freaking Donovan.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Madison Jolliffe
2hoots Productions presents “Jon Bennett vs Jason Donovan”
When: June 12 – 18, 2017
Where: Petit Campus, 57 Prince-Arthur East
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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