In homage to many a geek or nerd who can relate, a free slice of a cheese pizza is going to be offered at every performance of The Rise of Basement Boy. When two buddies are seen playing Dungeons and Dragons, a fantasy role-playing game, before even the show starts, some people may well wonder what will transpire in this comedy musical? If they read the synopsis, Archibald Clarkson (Markus Spodzieja) has to brave leaving the basement in order to be with his first true love or face losing her forever. When he spends most of his time sheltered away from reality along with Clarence, his Grandpa, (Francis Melling), who also struggles with his own demons, the only person they share a camaraderie with is with Bart (Jenson Kerr), a buddy who comes over to play with them.
But when Archie answers the door in order to receive their daily influx of pizza that’ll make the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hungry, just who he meets is not their regular delivery person. Instead of the guy who has been ripping them off for years, he meets Candy (Hayley McCurdy), who happens to be the girl of his dreams. To see Clarkson flabbergasted is not without some chuckles and to witness Bart act jealous gets the plot in motion.
Writer Shane Campbell crafted an interesting tale about insecurities in the same vein of That 70’s Show but there are no dream sequences or “stupid helmet” to be found here. There’s a few running gags that fellow pop culture enthusiasts will get, like references to Star Wars and Pokémon. Fortunately this show does not get too meta except when the characters break into a musical number.
McCurdy (pictured bottom right) has the best voice when she’s singing “Be Your Power-Up.” As Peach, the story really gets moving along with “Press Select for Guide.” Although the resolution seems too rosy for this play’s own good, at least the message this show offers is exceptional: don’t let life pass you by. Thankfully, both Archie and grandpa wake up to smell the flowers. To see them interact with audiences will no doubt give the best laughs.
This show certainly has a lot of heart established for it. The song “Enter the Hero” has meaning, and if obtaining rights to perform David Bowie’s “Heroes” wasn’t so expensive, the inclusion of this tune can elevate this Fringe show to new heights. But when this play’s setup is simply that of a sit-com in disguise, perhaps the goal Campbell is setting himself up for is to gain a resume so he can start working in television. He may even craft the next Kids In the Hall.
4 Blokes out of 5
Continues at Victoria’s Downtown Activity Centre at 755 Pandora Avenue on:
Fri, Aug 29 • 9:30pm
Sat, Aug 30 • 3:15pm
Sun, Aug 31 • 3:45pm
The pizza is being generously provided by Earl’s Restaurant and is surprisingly quite good. The only toppings offered were mozerella cheese and a house-made tomato sauce. The light basil garnish is most likely what made this appetizer tasty.