Culture & Conversation

Obscenely Funny

At the fundraiser for Several Scenes Involving a Decomposing Corpse at Café Cleopatre, I found myself seated next to a decrepit, decaying mannequin in pearls, as disturbingly pornographic renditions of the Golden Girls played on a projector. The actual play, showing at the self-same venue through this week, delivered on my expectations as a bizarre blend of camp, sex, and dark humour.

Full disclosure: my roommate stars in this play. All the better, to watch her practice the lines of her climactic sex scene over breakfast, and regale me with titillating snippets in the nights leading up to the show (there is necrophilia, but could one expect any less?). Plus, the intermission features a corpulent man nailing an enthusiastic young woman to clown music. It’s an easy sell.

As the title would suggest, the play is a montage of scenes involving a corpse in advanced stages of decomposition. Said corpse delivers an impressive theatrical range, pulling off family pet, decaying grandparent or charismatic love interest – the dark, brooding, silent Jacob – with equal ease (“He sorta looks like Heath Ledger… post-humously, I mean,” love interest Tammy comments). In spite of the stubborn reticence of the corpse, characters approach the mannequin as a conscious entity, addressing it (him?) as a character in its (his?) own right.

“You know, there’s more to theatre than a bunch of loosely strung together jokes pertaining to fornication,” a despondent actor interjects towards the end. Fair enough. The vignettes and storylines of Several Scenes are unceasingly obscene. But while the elements are disconnected and often sexual, they are pretty consistently amusing.

In fact (and perhaps this reviewer’s own sick bent towards dark humour betrays her), there are seemingly infinite one-liners and shticks to make a decomposing corpse really quite hilarious. Writer and director Chris Wilding effectively conflates ironic, over-the-top campiness and black comedy, with barely-registered traces of angst bubbling to the surface.

There is the mandatory love story, of course. Born-again Christian Tammy and corpse Jacob experience the ups and downs of a burgeoning romance. In one scene she falls to her knees in anguish, weeping noisily. “Don’t you have anything to say to me?!” she screams at the prostrate Jacob on her bed. This goes on for some time, to great effect. (My friend later confided that her own romances strangely resonate with the girl’s hysterical retributions to a dead body. But I digress).

There are a couple of weak spots, as well. The lengthy Weekend at Bernie’s sketch in the second act wears thin, and Nurse Busty Stevens also drags on after the spell of her breasts dissipates. But if you’ve kept up with the drinking game plastered on the bar table, the last half hour will fly by, and the grand finale makes up for a slow second act (it certainly explained why the roommate’s parents weren’t invited). The second act also features perhaps one of the more amusing theatrical scenes I have witnessed, and not a single (live) actor onstage.

Several Scenes Involving a Decomposing Corpse is round 2 of a similar production from Wilding last year. Go to sit back, relax, and soak in the gratuitous sex and violence. And hey, so long as you’re at Café Cleopatre – stick around for the drag show after.

Several Scenes Involving a Decomposing Corpse continues August 25, 26, 28 at Café Cleopatre, 1230 St. Laurent. Doors open at 8 pm, shows start at 9 pm. For tickets call 1-888-688-4459.

  • 3 Responses to “Obscenely Funny”

    1. The Barer

      The directors of this fiasco are very unprofessional and I somewhat feel bad for the talented cast of actors who had to put up with them. The play, however being gory as promised, is very poorly written and lacks direction. A plagiarizing 7th grader could have written this.

      Cheap and less than satisfactory video interludes between skits display a high lack of pride amongst the team putting this play on. Sequences of rather lame power-point presentation make you feel like you're in a poorly funded intro to computers class in 1992 and the clown porn intermission is all but shocking or thought provoking. Creepier stuff is shown on late night re-runs of Blue Nuit.

      Notably, 2 things do stand out in this messy display. First and foremost being the corpse itself and the special effects (simply amazing!). At least one of yous seemed to get some work done during the pre-production and came prepared to put on a show! Chapeau to you whoever you are! In my opinion these props would have more than made the cut for a Rob Zombie horror flick to say the least. It's too bad the lazy team of directors and stage hands don't care much for respecting the proper instructions in order to bring these tools they should be grateful for having alive nor do they keep up the proper maintenance of the stage and props throughout the play itself. A little respect goes a long way and YES the crowd does feel it when you don't care.

      The second would be Busty Stevens killer cleavage but then again the poor girl almost broke her neck on stage (when I saw it) slipping on a patch of blood left behind by the clean up crew after the prior skit ended. Very unprofessional, you should thank the heavens that you aren't using unionized actors cause there would be quite the number of questions to answer to after a negligent mishap like that.

      Again, I hope none of the actors take this to heart, especially the screaming hick-boy from the opening skit who clearly steals the show (until Busty's cleavage walk on stage). We out in the crowd know it isn't easy to turn shit into gold but at least you tried..

      As for the writer and directing team, don't quit your day jobs cleaning toilets or flipping burgers, you all still have a hell of a long way to go before anybody who sees this play will actually take you for serious professionals.

    2. Truth.

      Cody Langshaw wrote the above comment because she is bitter and horribly unprofessional. Her special FX were subpar and caused dangers that had to be dealt with at every point in the production. She is an angry former member of the crew and I URGE everyone who is looking for a special FX person to NEVER EVER EVER under ANY circumstances work with her… unless you want rushed work, horrible excuses and comments like the one written above to follow your show around on every site that gives it a positive review.

      It's ironic too that she praises her own work in the above column as most of the SPECIAL FX used in the actual shows had to be changed last minute due to their dangers and uselessness and were therefore NOT EVEN DESIGNED BY HER. On top of all this, she even attempted to sneak people INTO HER OWN SHOW without paying because she is sneaky and dishonest. Beware upcoming and established artists, always go with your gut!


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