A twisted musical comedy for misanthropes.
By Sarah Kurchak
Carol (Arabella Bushnell), a pathologically repressed office worker, attends a workshop that encourages people to express their feelings through music and blossoms into a cantankerous and borderline homicidal songbird. While this transformation predictably alienates and angers most people, it also earns her some surprising and not entirely welcome allies.
When she leaves a ditty called “Asshole Dave” on her boss’s analogue answering machine, it touches Dave (Brad Dryborough) so deeply that he quits his job (via song), fires Carol, and tries to convince his newfound muse to join him on a music-making adventure. Misanthropic hijinks and droll musical numbers ensue.
The audience for a musical about two seriously damaged people expressing their deepest innermost feelings through vicious song is small, but those in the target demographic (cynical weirdos who have listened to Morrissey’s “Sing Your Life” far too many times) will find much to enjoy here. Songs She Wrote About People She Knows is a brutally amusing film with bone-dry humour that takes the conventions of the golden era of movie musicals and reimagines them in the tone of a particularly surreal Kids In The Hall skit stretched to the most absurd limits of its premise. Much like Carol’s songs, the film will probably alienate most people, but find a few fervent fans along the way.
· The opening credits, which are basically a soaring opening number turned on its head to become a monotone celebration of murderous intent.
· Brad Dryborough’s complete commitment to his portrayal of Dave as a guileless neurotic with some serious boundary and life issues is so good and realistic that it would be painful to watch if it weren’t so funny.
· Carol’s character development is uneven at best, often taking a backseat to Dave’s antics. Her issues with her mother end on a satisfying note, but could have been even more cathartic with a bit more attention and care.
· Carol’s neighbour, Judy, is an unnecessarily shrill minor character that seems out of place in both the tone and spirit of the rest of the picture.
RATING: *** 1/2
RATING (CANADIAN CURVE): *** 1/2
Songs She Wrote About People She Knows is playing at the Broadway Theatre May 16, 18, 19, 24, 29 and 31.