“The Canadians,” currently world premiering at South Coast Repertory, is a mildly outrageous new comedy from playwright Adam Bock, where anyone can play anyone, regardless of gender.
The show begins and ends in frigid Canada, where blustery winds chill the bone. In between is a sea change, quite literally, with the two main characters discovering the Caribbean — and each other.
Five actors perform the work of dozens in this comical concoction directed by Jaime Castañeda, who gives them free rein for creative craziness. Bock fires off more F-bombs in his script than one might even expect from David Mamet.
Language isn’t the only element that would give the show an R rating, if it were a movie. “The Canadians” will tickle and provoke, but playgoers probably should leave the young ones at home due to the pungent dialogue and overt sexuality.
After Brendan (Daniel Chung) gets a pair of tickets for an all-expenses-paid, eight-day gay cruise, he invites a work buddy, Gordy (Kyle T. Hester), on a wild trip, where anything can happen and predictably does.
Hester is engaging as a hockey-playing Canuck reluctant to act on his desires. Chung enacts a likable fellow who’s more outgoing and up for just about anything.
Spicing up the proceedings are three, multi-tasking performers who do yeoman’s duty both in Canada and at sea. Corey Brill, Corey Dorris and SCR favorite Linda Gehringer fill these roles with verve and gusto.
Gehringer shines as a business-like Canadian mayor and later plays an older gay man named Oliver involved with a young, African American extrovert played to the hilt by Dorris. Brill sours the flavor of both scenes as a gossipy female office worker and as an obnoxious male cruiser.
Set designer Lauren Helpern has managed to utilize a blank back wall to approximate both snow-covered Canada and the tropical Caribbean climate. The costumes of Denitsa Bliznakova are predictably outlandish while the sound and lighting effects of Cricket S. Myers and Josh Epstein, respectively, enhance the SCR production.
Brevity may be the soul of wit, but Bock’s 80-minute “Canadians” leaves his audience thirsty for more, particularly in the area of character development. The SCR-commissioned comedy packs plenty of punch but little in the way of expository information.
Regardless, it’s an evening of high hilarity at South Coast Repertory.
IF YOU GO
What: “The Canadians”
Where: South Coast Repertory, Julianne Argyros Theater, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
When: Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:45 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 and 7:45 until Oct. 20
Cost: Tickets start at $24
Information: (714) 708-5555; scr.org