If Elaine May and Mike Nichols were alive today that would be horrible, because Nichols was buried two years ago. (May is still alive.)
That said, I am sure they would be happy to know that the legacy they started in the 1950s is being continued quite ably by Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram, who previewed their latest revue tonight at the John Candy Box Theatre in Toronto.
Long-standing staples on the Toronto comedy scene, Snieckus and Baram are veterans of the Second City and both have had their turn at television (Mr. D and Seed, respectively). But this real-life husband and wife are at their strongest when they stand across the stage from each other and reveal their neuroses in a mass therapy session that other people pay $15 to see.
The new show is aptly titled as they truly are still figuring it out. A combination of sketches, Nichols & May-style audio pieces, some improv, and playful audience banter, the show, which runs about 60 minutes, is still a work-in-progress, some bits decidedly more solid than others. But in many respects, that is the charm of a Baram & Snieckus production; it never feels complete.
This is a couple who consistently commit to their craft, who are willing to run with anything that comes up—including an audience suggestion of Dante’s cab ride, which turned into a motivational moment for an under-performing Satan with Daddy issues. But what makes this particularly charming is they are not afraid to let the audience know when they realize a bit isn’t working, and we all lean forward to see how they’ll extract themselves.
Their choice of venue facilitates this intimacy with the audience.
Although I have every confidence that Baram & Snieckus would have no trouble holding an audience in a large theatre, all of the revues that I have attended occurred in small venues, holding no more than 100 seats. The John Candy Box Theatre is no exception, and the audience sits so close to the stage that they become a tripping hazard for the performers.
Thus, when you see Baram & Snieckus perform, it is like you’re watching their lives from their living room.
[For the record, I have never been in their living room and this completely unnecessary ankle bracelet chafes.]
That intimacy, that vulnerability is the charm that bonds this team to the audience. These are your best friends and you are about to see them at their worst moment. Over and over and over again.
It’s schadenfreude for swingers. [The title of their next revue?]
One thing that was different from previous revues is the pair have started filming some of their classic sketches, and they projected two—from their previous revue You and Me Both—for tonight’s audience. This is part of a larger effort by the couple to make more of their material available online to audiences.
Still Figuring It Out, which runs until Friday, September 30, is practically sold out, so you’ll want to snatch the last few tickets soon, if you’re not already too late.
Alternatively, look for them on the web site of their company National Theatre of the World.
You will find laughs, and maybe a few insights as you too still figure it out.
Toronto Star review of Still Figuring It Out by Carly Maga
My review of You & Me Both