The Number 14: A Busload of Eccentrics creates an enjoyable evening of physical comedy

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo: Barb Gray

You meet some of the strangest people on buses, particularly it seems, on The Number 14 now making its twentieth anniversary tour around the country.

The Number 14 route in Vancouver is between Hastings and the University of British Columbia, so the passengers are likely to be varied. In life or on the Axis bus, you may meet passengers on their way to work or school, seniors off to bingo, street people coming in out of the cold, neat freaks and other weirdos — even an Italian realtor late for work and dressing on the bus as she tries to close a house deal by phone. The last, depicted by Morgan Brayton, is one of the most successful sketches in the collection. Two others of note are the extraordinarily athletic performance by Neil Minor as he uses the bus poles as trapezes and Stefano Giulianetti’s depiction of a fast-talking crazy man.

Equally impressive are the quick costume and mask changes throughout, particularly a scene in which a class on its way to Science World takes over from the passengers already seated on the bus.

While the timing and performance quality is admirable throughout and the sketch format depicting a wide assortment of characters/caricatures will suit audiences who enjoy clown shows and physical comedy, this is not a style that grabs everyone.

In addition, Act II’s descent into crudity is disappointing and some skits fall flat or drag. But, if some sketches outstay their welcome, at least audiences can be assured that a different busload of passengers will be along shortly.

The Number 14 continues at GCTC to December 16.

By collective: Melody Anderson, peter Anderson, Gina Bastone, Colin Heath, David MacKay, Wayne Specht, Roy Surette and Beatrice Zeilinger

Axis Theatre Company at Great Canadian Theatre Company

Director: Wayne Specht

Set: Pam Johnson

Lighting: Gerald King

Masks: Melody Anderson

Costumes: Nancy Bryant

Cast:

Chris Adams, Morgan Brayton, Stefano Giulianetti, Neil Minor, Tracey Power, Scott Walters

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