BWW Review: Second City Toronto's Hilarious Ensemble Struts Their Stuff in WALKING ON BOMBSHELLS
The Second City's 82nd revue WALKING ON BOMBSHELLS is undeniably a look into the many aspects of what it's like to live in Toronto. From the Osgoode subway station backdrop in its sad, dirty yellow glory and throughout every sketch performed in the show, the latest mainstage offering from the company balances the sillier parts of city living with some hard-hitting political commentary in a well-rounded manner.
Directed by Chris Earle, the ensemble (comprised of PHATT al, Nadine Djoury, Stacey McGunnigle, Sharjil Rasool, Allana Reoch, and Chris Wilson) touch on some uncomfortably familiar topics. Led by McGunnigle, the opening number highlights the real fear involved in taking public transit, while another sketch features Rasool as an upbeat and performative Toronto man who can't get over the fact, much to his coworkers' chagrin, that he just bought a condo.
One noteworthy sketch showed a post-date bike ride back to an apartment for drinks, during which McGunnigle and Wilson mime their way through the harrowing journey (set to Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now). It's a funny concept at its core, but both actors' ability to bring an extra level of sweetness and sincerity to it to make it one of the night's highlights.
WALKING ON BOMBSHELLS doesn't shy away from the multiculturalism of the city, either - between the Air Canada sketch with a bilingual flight attendant (Djoury) and the examination of how two fathers, one of Muslim faith (Rasool) and one of Jewish heritage (Djoury), have to deal with the fact that they're just 'too different' for their children to date. The latter is a heavily sarcastic exchange that never loses momentum, even when gestures or phrases are repeated - rather, it just gets funnier as it goes on, especially for anyone who has a relative like the characters onstage.
Not all of the show's sketches lean on humour to make a point, though. As a pair of friends feeding ducks at the park, PHATT al and Reoch offer a sharp look into unconscious racism. While there's no menace to the piece or either character's intentions, it places a character in a place where they need to consider their own bias. There is great use of silence in the scene, and a beautiful - if not brief - monologue from PHATT al drives the whole sketch home.
Sprinkled throughout the show are several shorter sketches that help pace the show, including a look into the pressure around a high note and an observation of what people look like at the art gallery, both performed by Wilson. An anxious son and his father at a food court are embodied by Reoch and Wilson to great success, and in another scene the pair are flanked by McGunnigle as the obnoxious friend who's suffered serious injuries in a car accident. The entire sketch is well-written and delivered, and McGunnigle commands the entire piece with her rural Ontarian accent and constant chatter.
WALKING ON BOMBSHELLS is a strong addition into The Second City's extensive catalogue, seamlessly weaving political commentary and punchlines to present what the lives of many Torontonians might look like. While a few sketches go on a bit longer than they might need to, the show flows through ideas and stories smoothly. The main draw here is the ensemble, given that they've compiled a series of sketches that might have begun as reflections of their own experiences but onstage offer a much wider look into everything that makes big city living so unique.
WALKING ON BOMBSHELLS at Second City Toronto runs every Tuesday through Sunday at 8pm, Mainstage Theatre, 51 Mercer Street, Toronto, ON.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.secondcity.com/shows/toronto/walking-on-bombshells
Photo credit (l-r): Stacey McGunnigle, Allana Reoch, Nadine Djoury, PHATT al, Sharjil Rasool, Chris Wilson. Photo by Paul Aihoshi.