Think the title’s long? that’s not even the full title. It’s Love is a Poverty You Can Sell 2: Kisses for a Pfennig, the latest production from Soup Can Theatre. When I saw it I figured yes this is a labour of love, a project that the company enjoys. It’s a bit awkward sounding, as though taken from a lyric translated from German.
LIAPYCS2 is currently running at the Toronto Fringe Festival, at “Bite”, the lower part of Moskito + Bite, a versatile new space on College at Bathurst, and a fascinating addition to a vibrant neighbourhood (beside Sneaky Dee’s near Kensington Market).
Now I wish I had seen the original. I wonder if it was as good as this show (the sequel)?
I find myself wondering about the process of creation, the assembly of the materials. Directed & choreographed by Sarah Thorpe, conducted by Pratik Gandhi, the program says the show was “curated” by Thorpe, Gandhi & Justin Haigh, as if in recognition of the delicacy of this process, We’ve seen other shows in the Toronto area that flirt with a cabaret sensibility in various ways. Some aim for being true to the original period, where their authenticity is understood according to the Weimar model. But to be truly authentic the performance needs to speak directly to the audience, to be intelligible and urgent. It can’t be a museum piece (speaking of curation).
That’s what Soup Can Theatre achieved in this combination of old (a few songs by Weill and Hollander in translation) & more recent (Sondheim, Nilsson, & a song from Urinetown). The universals of the Weimar cabarets –their sexual & political edginess, their dark themes—don’t fade away.
The show has a very raw, unfinished quality to it. While there are trained singers & dancers onstage, the presentation is in your face, sometimes subtle & intimate.
I was especially impressed by Christian Jeffries in his two appearances, a contrasting pair if ever there was one. Whereas his first song is over-the-top funny, as he is mercilessly upstaged by his backup dancing troupe, the second (“Lili Marlene” ) literally brought me to tears, the subtlest performance of the night.
From what I’ve surmised online (google being a poor substitute for seeing Soup Can’s previous cabaret) this is a longer & more elaborate show than the last one. Sometimes we’re in dark territory, as in “Don’t be the Bunny” or “Coin Operated Boy”, while other moments are more soulful & lyrical such as Weill’s “”Youkali” or Hollander’s “Falling in Love Again”. Pratik Gandhi leads an ensemble of 14 (if I counted right), at times raucous in their enthusiasm but never covering the singers.
Soup Can Theatre’s Love is a Poverty You Can Sell 2 continues at Bite on College St until July 14th as part of the 25th Fringe Festival.