SummerWorks 2014: Chicken Grease is Nasty Business Review

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Chicken Grease is Nasty Business

Juried Series

An unabashed crowd pleasing comedy with few pretensions, Chicken Grease is Nasty Business follows the madcap exploits of a non-traditional family as they celebrate the less that happy birthday of one of their own.

Matriarch and fried chicken maven Modestine (Lili Francks) has devoted her life to adopting abandoned, at risk babies and raising them as her own. Now getting on in years, she hasn’t only adopted yet another baby that she shouldn’t have (this time one that has AIDS) and she’s preparing for a birthday blowout for her son Dwayne (Danny Waugh). What goes down, isn’t what she planned, however, as the party is crashed by the obviously phony Jesus freak that Dwayne plans to marry and the now pregnant woman who left him at the altar. It’s a situation that greatly pleases Modestine’s other cattier charges, Dwayne’s sister Pearl (Karen Glave) and his gay, white brother Delmar (Christian Lloyd).

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Director Kim Blackwell has effectively staged an energetic and fast paced show that never wanes in momentum. The cast (particularly Waugh, Lloyd, and Francks) all have perfect comedic timing and sensibilities for the material, and there’s a lot getting packed into just under 90 minutes.

Perhaps there’s a bit too much, though. As the show reaches its final act, the ever mounting twists begin to not only become predictable, but are so piled on in Michael Miller’s writing that a lot of it feels unnecessary and just there for the sake of seeing how fast people can go with the material. Blackwell and the cast keep up perfectly and manage to stay consistently funny even when some of the things they have to act out feel kind of pointless (including one potentially controversial third act twist that gets so easily and obviously resolved that it should be cut entirely).

Remaining shows at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue):

Tuesday August 12, 4:30pm
Thursday August 14, 7:00pm
Friday August 15, 4:30pm
Saturday August 16, 12:00pm

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