The antechamber shows are short, 30 mins pieces, and some of my favourite Next Stage offerings. This year brought two high-energy clown pieces.

Leila Live

A self-described “real life Persian Princess,” Leila Live (pronounced with a short /i/), offers a 30 min clown/drag cabaret, with singing, puppetry, original song writing, rapping, and of course, lots of laughs. A solo cup becomes an ‘Aladdin Hat,’ an money puppet becomes a puke bag, becomes a bag of samples. Highlights include a very entertaining medley, as well as some excellent object and crowd work. Leila demonstrates what you can do with an economy of time, space and props, making us laugh out loud with this charming, and outrageously funny piece.

The Surprise

Ginger has invited us to her birthday party, and it’s going to be great! Nevermind that she’s turning 40 and is incredibly self-conscious about it. What results is a comedy of upsets, as we watch Ginger try, desperately, to have the best birthday ever. I appreciated the form and energy of this show; lots of audience interaction within the structure of the surprise party was great fun. However, Ginger did not always have control of her audience, and the constant back and forth between her characters didn’t serve the energy of the show. That said, it’s a fun 30 mins, with dance parties, party noise makers, hats, cake, a very funny mutinous DJ, and lots of surprises.